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Monster ENCyclopedia: Jackalwere

Be warned, this Monster ENCyclopedia entry might put you to sleep. If you gaze into its eyes, that is. Not quite a lycanthrope, the beguiling jackalwere has shapeshifted its way through five editions of the D&D game, from the 1st Edition Monster Manual right through to the 5th Edition Monster Manual.

[h=2]Monster ENCyclopedia: Jackalwere[/h]
This is a series of posts about specific monsters from D&D's history. Each entry takes a look at the origin of one D&D creature, and tracks its appearances and evolution across different editions. We've reached the tenth entry in this series, and although there aren't many "J" creatures with a presence across multiple editions, the jackalwere has featured in every edition of the game except basic D&D.

[h=3]Shapeshifter terminology[/h]
Before we delve into the origins of the jackalwere, we're going to take a short detour into the terminology used for creatures capable of changing shape between human and animal form. D&D uses "lycanthrope" as a collective terms for werewolves, werebears, wererats and other humanoids able to take animal form. This is, however, technically incorrect. Lycanthrope is simply a synonym for werewolf, made from the greek words for "wolf" (lykos) and "human" (anthrōpos).

A more accurate word for part-human, part-animal beings in general would be "therianthrope", which is "beast" (theríon) plus "human" (anthrōpos). However, in 2002, Necromancer Games published The Tome of Horrors. This isn't an official D&D book, but with Wizards of the Coast's permission it did include 3rd Edition conversions of a large number of creatures from D&D history. Unfortunately, this book repurposed "therianthrope" as a collective term for animals capable of taking human form -- the opposite of D&D's "lycanthropes", if you like.

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Monster Manual (1977)

Even without that added confusion, therianthrope is not ideal in a D&D context, since "theríon" implies mammalian, and there have been many non-mammalian werecreatures over the years, including werecrocodiles (Monsters of Faerûn), wereowls (FR7: Hall of Heroes), wereravens (MC10: Monstrous Compendium Ravenloft Appendix), wererays (Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III), weresharks (Monster Manual II), werespiders (FR7: Hall of Heroes again) and even one wereeel (Dungeon #66). Also, in mythology, therianthrope is used to describe both human-to-animal and animal-to-human shapechangers, so it isn't particularly useful as a word to differentiate the two.

Perhaps the most obvious collective term for humans capable of taking animal form is simply "werebeast", and that was indeed the word used for the title of the Ravenloft accessory Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts, one of D&D's more comprehensive looks at shapeshifting humans. But is there a good collective word for animals able to take human form, such as the jackalwere? The 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual suggests "antherion", but that seems to be the only time that term was used, and it probably isn't liguistically correct in any case. Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts settles on "animalistic shapechangers", or just "shapechangers".

From a game mechanics point of view, the key difference between werebeasts and shapechangers is that werebeasts can pass on their affliction to others, while shapechangers cannot. The creature which is the focus of this article -- the jackalwere -- falls firmly into the latter category, and is thus not a werebeast, but merely a shapechanger.

[h=3]Origins and development[/h]
Quite why Gary Gygax decided that AD&D needed the jackalwere is a mystery. One possible source of inspiration is the Egyptian god Anubis, guardian of the dead, who has the head of a jackal. He most likely has this head because of a strong association between cemeteries and jackals in ancient times; the digging up of human bodies for food by jackals and other wild dogs was a common problem. While Anubis may have inspired the jackalwere, its shapeshifting ability doesn't seem to have any mythological basis, nor is there any association between Anubis and jackalweres in D&D lore.

The Monster Manual describes the jackalwere as a malign foe of humankind. Its natural form is that of a jackal, but it is able to take the form of a human, and does so in order to trick potential victims. Provided that a target is unsuspecting, the jackalwere can use its gaze as a sleep spell. A target failing a saving throw falls asleep, and the shapechanger will then murder him or her, devour the body, and steal any valuable possessions. The Monster Manual is careful to note that the gaze will not work on a hostile target, so it is not useful in combat situations.

Jackalweres are encountered in groups of 1-4, and near their lairs 30% of the time. They are chaotic evil, have an Armor Class of 4, and 4 Hit Dice. They have a single attack (presumably a bite) which does 2-8 damage, and they can also use human weapons. They are very intelligent and can only be hit by iron weapons or weapons with at least a +1 magical bonus.

The jackalwere is one of the better illustrated creatures in the Monster Manual, getting two pictures. One shows a sword-wielding jackalwere in the process of finishing off a fallen warrior, while the individual in the smaller picture is gnawing on what looks suspiciously like a human femur. Although there is no mention at this stage of the jackalwere having a hybrid humanoid/jackal form, all of the artwork depicts the shapechanger as something in between dog and human.

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Monster Manual (1977)

Where jackalwere appear in 1st Edition adventures, it is often only in random encounters. I2: Tomb of the Lizard King has some detailed encounter tables which includes a group of four jackalweres in human form, on their way to pay their respects to Sakatha, the titular lizard king. Two or three jackalweres might be encountered at night in the foothills in UK4: When a Star Falls, and another group of three disguised as pilgrims can be encountered on the road to the Shrine of Nevron in N3: Destiny of Kings. A pair of jackalweres in human form are a potential mountain encounter in the adventure The Long Way Home in C6: The Official RPGA Tournament Handbook.

In Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits there is an encounter with a group of four jackalweres in the Chamber of the Peace-Speakers. Predictably, they are disguised a humans. However, the lengths to which this group has gone to support their subterfuge is extraordinary. The room has been set up to look like it contains shrines to "good and pacifist" gods, and the jackalweres are kitted out in gold-fringed robes and ornamental pectoral plates. The shapechangers obviously have nothing better to do all day than to pretend to be priests, and when the adventurers arrive in the chamber, they offer them comfort and safety from the terrors of Lolth. So well organised are these jackalweres, that they even have platters of fruit and meat to offer to their guests. Assuming that this elaborate ruse works, and that the PCs aren't the least bit suspicious of a group of friendly clerics living in the middle of Lolth's web, the jackalweres will eventually revert to their natural forms and attack. One can only assume that once they have feasted on the latest group of adventurers, the jackalweres carefully wash the blood off their priestly garments, tidy up their fake temple and go shopping for some fresh snacks to offer their next batch of visitors.

Like the ixitxachitl, the jackalwere is one of the possible forms taken by someone reincarnated while in Lolth's realm. Also like the ixitxachitl, jackalweres are natives of one of the alternative worlds that can be reached from portals within the Demonweb. In this case, they dwell within the Nightworld of the vampire Vlad Tolenkov.

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Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits (1980)

T1-4: Temple of Elemental Evil has another rather implausible jackalwere encounter. In level three of the dungeon, there is a room in which two human prisoners are chained. They are being tormented by rats, foxes, jackals and harpies when the PCs arrive. Most of the room turns out to be an illusion. The rats and foxes are entirely fake, and the harpies are magically disguised gargoyles. The two prisoners are actually jackalweres and their chains and wounds are entirely illusory. Only the jackals are real. This is another encounter where the participants seem to have nothing better to do than wait for PCs to stumble onto their overly complicated trap. Players who conquered Queen of the Demonweb Pits before visiting the Temple might be disappointed with this encounter's lack of catering.

The pages of Dragon and Dungeon magazine during the 1st Edition generally follow the same trend of using jackalweres in human disguise, often in implausible situations. A welcome exception is in the adventure The Fell Pass in The Dragon #32. Here, the jackalweres make no attempt to trick the PCs, but instead wait until they have finished a nearby encounter with some giant snakes, and then attack only if the party doesn't seem too powerful to be taken on. It's just as well this group isn't serving aperitifs, since their pantry contains only the dismembered remains of three elves.

Dragon #42 lists the jackalwere as a creature that might be sent by a demon prince to aid a player character who has made a pact with him. Dragon #54 notes that jackalweres sometimes lair within ruins. Thrills and Chills in Dragon #68 includes jackalwere as suitable creatures for a campaign set in the ice age.

The jackalweres in the adventure In Defense of the Law in Dungeon #8 are as likely to help as hinder the heroes. Elsewhere in the adventure there is a group of clerics with a bugbear ally. If warned of the approaching PCs, the clerics send the bugbear to fetch the jackalweres. Instead of assisting, the jackalweres put the poor bugbear to sleep and then eat him!

Dragon #130 has a lengthy article on gaze attacks of all sorts, including the jackalwere's sleep-inducing gaze. It clarifies that sleeping characters are subject to double the normal number of hits and take maximum damage from each one, but that if they survive, they will automatically wake up. The article also pegs the range of the jackalwere's gaze at 30 feet, and notes that the resulting sleep lasts for two turns. A footnote in this article confirms (apparently for the first time) that jackalweres can take three different forms -- jackal, human or a hybrid of the two. It is also suggested here that jackalweres may not be immune to the gazes of other jackalweres, since they instinctively avoid each other's gazes when in combat.

[h=3]2nd Edition[/h]
The jackalwere received a dedicated page in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One. Except for a change to its experience point value, and a note that it is found in temperate climates, its statistics are exactly the same as they were in 1st Edition.

Like most 2nd Edition creatures, it has a much more detailed description and background. Earlier sources mentioned only humans as potential prey for the jackalwere, but this is now extended to include demihumans. The three forms that a jackalwere can take are more explicitly described, with the hybrid form being the same size as human form. One interesting point is that the human appearance adopted by a jackalwere is not constant, but can vary according to its desires. A careful observer might note that a jackalwere behaves more aggressively than an ordinary jackal, when in that form.

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Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989)

The motivation for the jackalwere is rather one dimensional; its sole goal in life is to hunt and kill humans and demihumans. A master of deceit, a jackalwere usually adopts human form at first, often pretending to be injured or in need of assistance to gain the confidence of its target so that it can use its gaze attack. If subterfuge doesn't work, the jackalwere will carefully assess its victim's strength before deciding whether to flee or press the attack.

Because of its appetite for human blood, the jackalwere prefers to use its bite in combat, but it will use weapons if that is more likely to secure a victory. It is able to use both weapons and its bite while in hybrid form, but only weapons while in full human guise. Despite this, jackalweres have been observed feasting on the bodies of fallen enemies while still in human form. Even in its choice of weapon, the jackalwere's bloodlust comes through. They prefer weapons which cut and tear the flesh of a victim. Both the jackalwere's gaze, and its special defenses (iron or magical weapons required to hit) function in all three forms.

Jackalweres can only mate while in jackal form, and only produce jackalwere offspring with other jackalweres. They can mate with ordinary jackals, but this union merely produces young jackals which are unnaturally aggressive. The gestation period of a jackalwere is five months, and a litter consists of up to four pups. Youngsters begin with a single Hit Die and gain one per year until they reach adulthood at the age of three. For their first two years, they cannot change shape. At the age of two they can shift into hybrid form, and once they reach adulthood they can take human form. They age approximately three times as quickly as humans, so a newly adult jackalwere appears to be a nine-year old child when in human form. If encountered with young, adults tend to pretend the pups are their pets. In death, jackalweres revert to their jackal forms.

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Monstrous Manual (1993)

When it was reprinted in the Monstrous Manual, the jackalwere received its first colour illustration, and a small adjustment to its experience point value (down to 270 from 420 XP). It is otherwise unchanged.

DMGR5: Creative Campaigning lists the jackalwere as a suitable creature for an African-themed campaign, as does The Dark Continent in Dragon #189. PHBR11: The Complete Ranger's Handbook suggests that a ranger from a desert environment could choose the jackalwere as a favoured enemy. Villains, Like Fine Wine in Dragon #238 suggests that a jackalwere would make a good sleeper agent because of its ability to sow misinformation, but that doesn't seem consistent with what we know about their bloodthirsty personalities.

A jackalwere named Asaph abdul Anat features in The Rod of Seven Parts. He is the owner of the fourth and fifth segments of the rod, which he has joined together. Unfortunately for him, the only threat he poses to the PCs is if he is dropped on them, since he was turned to stone by a medusa some time ago. Curiously, the adventure includes a complete stat block for the jackalwere, despite his petrification. However, this provides us with two new nuggets of jackalwere lore -- elven and half-elven resistance to sleep is confirmed as applying to a jackalwere's gaze, and the gaze's range is from 9-30 feet, depending on available light. Perhaps surprisingly, this is consistent with the range offered back in the footnote in Dragon #130.

Dungeon #21 predates the Planescape setting by a few years, but it contains an adventure titled The Chest of Aloeids which is set on the plane of Arcadia. One of the random encounters is with a lone jackalwere who attempts to separate the party, so that it can feast on a straggler. Interestingly, some of the plane's native inhabitants, Athena's giant owl and a beekeeper and his bees, are able to sense the jackalwere's duplicity.

[h=3]3rd Edition[/h]
The jackalwere appeared in the 3rd Edition Fiend Folio. It remains a 4 Hit Dice creature, with much the same abilities as in 1st and 2nd Edition. There are a few small changes, however. It can now take the form of any medium-sized humanoid (not just humans), and in addition to speaking Common, is able to communicate with ordinary jackals in any form. Jackalweres have both darkvision (60') and low-light vision (the only edition where this is the case). Their alignment is slightly more flexible, now only "usually" chaotic evil.

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Fiend Folio (2003)

As in 2nd Edition, the jackalwere can use weapons in humanoid or hybrid form, and its bite attack in hybrid or jackal form. There is some clarification of what happens to carried equipment when a jackalwere changes into a jackal. Its gear is absorbed into its jackal form, but magic items cease functioning. Jackalweres are give a scimitar as a signature weapon, but can still use other types of weapons if necessary. In hybrid form they can wear light or medium, but not heavy armor.

The range of their gaze attack remains 30 feet, and now lasts only 5 minutes. Contradicting Dragon #130, jackalweres are now immune to their own gaze attacks and those of other jackalweres. Published at the tail end of 3.0, Fiend Folio was largely compatible with 3.5. However, the D&D v.3.5 Accessory Update amended the jackalwere's damage reduction to "5/iron".

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Dungeon #120 (2005)

Nicholas Logue and Brendan Victorson contributed The Obsidian Eye to Dungeon #120. This adventure features a triad of jackalweres, and for a change they all have fully developed personalities with individuals quirks. Their leader, Khalogo, has fur which is brighter orange and deeper black than most of his kind, and he takes a measure of pride in his appearance. He even practices oral hygiene, chewing on roots and leather to counter his naturally fetid breath. It helps that all three of these jackalwere have class levels; one is a sorcerer, one a ranger, and the third a druid.

[h=3]4th Edition[/h]
The first two Monster Manuals for 4th Edition were quite light on monster lore, but by the time the jackalwere was published in the Monster Manual 3, more attention was being give to each creature's place in the world. The jackalwere gets a brief mention in the Alumni article in Dragon #387 as one of the top ten returning creatures from the original Monster Manual, but the article adds nothing new to jackalwere lore.

In 4th Edition, for the first time, we get an origin story for the jackalwere. In ancient times, while the war between the primordials and the gods raged, there lived a great nation of exceptionally intelligent jackals. After a series of fierce battles, this nation was destroyed by a tribe of humans, leaving only a few destitute survivors. These survivors howled in anguish at the heavens and a primal spirit known as Dark Sister heard their cries. She bestowed her gifts on the jackals and they became the first jackalweres.

Jackalweres roam the frontiers of humanoid lands, dwelling in remote villages, roadhouses and isolated trading posts. They are skilled hunters but also enjoy deception, and use their shapechanging talents to divert suspicion once their attacks on settlements and caravans are noticed. A group of adventurers probing such raids might partner with another party also investigating the killers, only to have the members of that party reveal themselves as the true perpetrators when they change shape and attack during the night.

Although most jackalweres avoid civilization, some lone individuals gravitate towards treacherous followers of Zehir or cults of Asmodeus. Their abilities make them excellent spies or assassins for these groups.

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Monster Manual 3 (2010)

The Monster Manual 3 details three different types of jackalweres. Jackalwere Bravos are the younger members of the pack. Treated as servants or menial laborers by their elders, these youngsters struggle to contain their bloodlust, and usually enter combat in a furious rage. They do not use complex tactics, and never back down. Mechanically, they have a Howling Frenzy attack which is a double-bite and Bravo's Fury which gives them extra damage against helpless opponents. When in human form they prefer a falchion as their weapon.

Jackalwere Harriers represent those of their kind who prefer to run wild. They are cautious fighters who attack only in large groups, unless accompanying Jackalwere Deceivers and Bravos. In the rare cases that they are encountered in human form, their weapon of choice is a simple dagger.

The Jackalwere Deceiver most closely resembles the jackalwere from earlier sources. They are the most cunning of foes, and the only variation with a Gaze of Sleep. Equally likely to be found hunting alone or leading a pack of lesser jackalweres, they prefer to gain the trust of their enemies before striking or signalling the rest of their pack to attack. In jackal form they have a Vicious Howl attack which can knock opponents prone. In human form, they favour the short sword.

The most significant change from earlier jackalweres is that they no longer have a hybrid form. All three types can now change only between jackal and human form. Unlike 3rd Edition, their equipment does not change with them, and they can only assume the form of an individual they have seen previously.

[h=3]5th Edition[/h]
In the lengthy development period leading up to the release of 5th Edition, WotC published a number of articles on their web site providing insights into their design strategies and goals. (Sadly, most of these are now lost to the great Internet graveyard of no-longer-accessible web content.) In a Legends & Lore article titled Whose Story Is It, Anyway? Mike Mearls wrote about building links between different creatures to create a more cohesive D&D world for 5th Edition.

The example used in this article was the jackalwere. In 5th Edition, jackalweres were created by the demon lord Graz'zt to serve his devoted servants, the lamias. He bestowed jackals with the gift of speech and the ability to take on humanoid form. Mearls acknowledges that not everyone will want to use this lore in their campaign, so the mechanical design of the jackalwere remains independent of this background.

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Monster Manual (2014)

The jackalwere is included in the Monster Manual and other than this new link to Graz'zt and lamias, the latest incarnation of the jackalwere is fairly loyal to previous lore. They are still manipulative murderers, patrolling roads and trails and using their shapechanging abilities to gain the trust of strangers. They are back to having three forms, but are once again limited to a human appearance (not humanoid). The text isn't entirely clear but seems to imply that they have one specific human form, which is unusually gaunt. As in 4th Edition, the equipment carried by a jackalwere is not transformed when it changes shape. In death, they return to their natural jackal form. One delightful new twist is that jackalweres are born to lie, and sometimes wince in pain if forced to tell the truth.

Mechanically they are still 4 HD creatures with a bite attack in jackal or hybrid form and a weapon attack in hybrid or human form. The scimitar returns as their weapon of choice. The shapechanger's gaze attack still has a range of 30 feet, but a target who succeeds in a saving throw becomes immune to that jackalwere's gaze for the next 24 hours. Undead and creatures immune to being charmed are singled out as unaffected by the gaze. Iron weapons are no longer the Achilles' heel for the jackalwere. Instead, silvered or magical weapons are required to hurt it. The jackalwere gains Keen Hearing and Smell as well as Pack Tactics, which give it an advantage when fighting with allies.

[h=3]Jackalweres and other monsters[/h]
Jackalweres have been associating with ordinary jackals right from their first appearance in the Monster Manual, which pegs the odds of the two being found together as 20%. Conversely, the encounter tables in the 1st Edition Dungeon Masters Guide and Fiend Folio indicate that 10% of encounters with what appear to be jackals are actually with jackalweres. The Monstrous Manual repeats the 20% figure and notes that accompanied jackalweres travel with 1-6 jackals, and will often run and hunt with them while in jackal form. Jackals under the influence of jackalweres become more fierce and are hunters rather than scavengers.

The Monstrous Manual notes that the shapechangers will only serve the most evil of humanoids, and then only if that means they have more opportunity to slay humans and demihumans than they would otherwise have. The 4th Edition Monster Manual 3 suggests that yuan-ti are willing to partner with jackalweres for a short time as a means to an end. It also notes that jackalweres dislike the flesh of half-orcs, goliaths, and (obviously) warforged, and will thus sometimes hire them as mercenaries to disguise their true nature.

5th Edition introduces a new relationship with lamias. Jackalweres operate as their servants, using their gazes to knock targets unconscious, before binding and kidnapping them into a lifetime of slavery under a lamia master, or an agonizing death. The shapechanges still prefer to fight alongside jackals, who are fierce and loyal companions to them.

[h=3]Jackalweres and magic[/h]
The 1st Edition Dungeon Masters Guide classified scrolls into two types, those that replicate spells, and protection scrolls. A scroll of Protection from Shape-Changers is listed as a sub-type of scrolls of Protection from Lycanthropes, and is effective at keeping jackalweres at bay. The Dungeon Masters Guide also provides some clarification of the effect of a polymorph other spell on a jackalwere or other type of shapechanger. The target is affected for only one round before returning to its previous form.

The Amulet of Protection from Sleep detailed in Dragon #91 provides effective protection against the gaze of a jackalwere. The article Better Living Through Alchemy suggests a jackalwere heart as a typical ingredient for a Potion of Polymorph Self, and the Book of Artifacts notes that jackalwere spittle is used to create an Aroma of Dreams Potion.

Blood Spawn: Creatures of Light and Shadow notes that jackalweres appear with very rare frequency in the setting's Shadow World.

The jackalwere is suggested as a suitable creature to use for urban encounters in Sharn: City of Towers.

[h=3]Forgotten Realms[/h]
The most notable appearance of a jackalwere in early Forgotten Realms products is in the novel Shadowdale. A silver-haired "man" named Torrence mistakes Kelemvor Lyonsbane for one of its kin, and attempts to lure him into sharing a meal in a form of a hapless resident of Tilverton. Kelemvor is actually a werepanther as a result of a curse, and does not take kindly to Torrence's overtures. He eventually slays the jackalwere. One unusual aspect of this encounter is that the jackalwere seems to be able to enchant a companion of Kelemvor's by singing to her. No explanation is given for this ability, so we can only theorise that Torrence perhaps had some bardic training.

This encounter is mirrored in the adventure FRE1: Shadowdale. In the section on Tilverton, it is noted that that something strong enough to tear its victims limb from limb is preying on Tilvertonians. Given the fact that jackalweres aren't really known for their heightened strength, this description seems to mostly be a set-up so that Kelemvor (a potential PC in this adventure) falls under suspicion if he is forced into panther form in front of the townsfolk.

Jackalweres are found in many parts of Faerûn, and are a popular inclusion in random encounter tables. They might be encountered in the sewers beneath Waterdeep (FR1: Waterdeep and the North), in the Rat Hills (City of Splendors), at night in the High Moor (FRE3: Waterdeep), in the depths of Undermountain (Undermountain: Stardock), in the temperate plains of Cormyr (Four from Cormyr), in the wildness areas around Zhentil Keep (FRC2: Curse of the Azure Bonds), in post-spellplague Elturgard (ELTU3-6: True Blue and SPEC5-1: Morthac's Mansion), or near Hillsfar (DDEX3-1: Harried in Hillsfar).

The malicious shapechangers have also been spotted in locations beyond western Faerûn. The Horde boxed set notes that jackalwere can be found roaming the prairies on the edge of the steppe and in the South Forest. The article Backdrop: Moonshae Isles in Dungeon #196 details a jackalwere spy named Twaine Stone. He has infiltrated the army of Caer Moray and is leaving secret messages outside the city walls for the Black Blood Tribe, a group of Faerûnian lycanthropes who revere Malar, the Lord of Beasts.

Prior to 4th Edition jackalweres were not particularly pious creatures, but at least in the Realms, a relationship with Malar is not unusual. Faiths & Avatars notes that the Lord of Beasts frequently acts through all sorts of predators, including jackalweres. Halls of Undermountain includes a jackalwere named Ulquar who fancies himself a priest of Malar, despite having no clerical abilities whatsoever. Malar doesn't have a monopoly on jackalwere followers though, as Serpent Kingdoms lists them amongst the followers of Sseth.

Jackalweres seem to have appeared only intermittently in Greyhawk sources. A Serenade Before Supper in Dungeon #53 is set in the Iron Wood, about fifty miles west of Verbobonc. This adventure begins by tricking the PCs into thinking they have been swallowed by the Mists of Ravenloft, but in fact they are just experiencing very bad weather.

The protagonists are a wolfwere and two jackalweres who have taken up residence in a remote inn, and instead of feeding passing travellers, they are feeding on passing travellers. However, they are cautious about who they are willing to take on, and on a few occasions when large groups have visited the inn, have kept up the pretence by entertaining guests for an evening. One of the jackalweres has even learned to cook using the previous owner's cookbook, suggesting that these jackalweres might be distant relatives of the ones operating a catering side business in the Demonweb Pits.

Several Living Greyhawk scenarios include encounters with jackalweres. DYV1-01: Dine and Dash features three, but one of them is actually a deluded human assassin who acquired a cursed ring of mammal control (jackals) and is now convinced he is a jackalwere. Despite the fact that they have never seen him change shape, the two real jackalweres follow him faithfully simply because they have prospered under his leadership. A curious plot hook in this adventure is the fact that centaurs are apparently completely immune to the gaze of a jackalwere.

Less interesting jackalwere encounters are documented in other regions of Oerth, including Nyrond (NYR6-M01: A Lament in Entrell), Furyondy (FUR7-03: Illusions and Dreams), and the Free Town of Highfolk (HIG8-06: Dawn).

The jackalwere features prominently in the Ravenloft adventure Hour of the Knife. Set in Paridon, which is the Ravenloft analog of pre-industrial London, the adventure is a complicated murder mystery in which Sodo, the doppelganger darklord of the domain, and his right-hand-man-turned-traitor, Sir Edmund Bloodsworth (also a doppelganger) both play an important role. Sir Edmund Bloodsworth is in league with a pack of jackalweres, lead by his huntsman, Bardan. So integral are the shapechangers to the story that the adventure offers a number of clarifications of how jackalweres' special abilities work.

We learn that a jackalwere can, in fact, not imitate a specific person, but can only choose up to three main characteristics of its human form. The remainder are determined randomly. So, for example, a jackalwere could choose to be female, with red hair and a distinguishing feature of livid scar across her face. But the woman's height, build, and overall level of attractiveness/ugliness will be outside of the control of the creature. The jackalwere's body does have a shape "memory" though, enabling it to return to a form that it has previously taken. This means that jackalweres (at least in Ravenloft) tend to have a few favourite human shapes that they regularly return to. They can retain up to four different patterns in this shape memory.

These jackalweres are also able to use their gaze in combat, provided that the target is unsuspecting. Even if an opponent is actively trying to avoid its gaze during the battle, there is still a 20% chance each round of meeting the jackalwere's gaze.

The official Ravenloft fan site released an unofficial sequel to Hour of the Knife titled Shadow of the Knife. Jackalweres feature in this adventure too, although not quite as prominently as in the original.

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Hour of the Knife (1994)

Deceptive, bloodthirsty shapechangers are a pretty good fit for the Ravenloft setting in general, so it isn't surprising that jackalweres show up in other domains. They can be encountered in Kartakass (RA1: Feast of Goblyns), the deserts of Har'akir (RA3: Touch of Death), and even rarely in Count Strahd's domain of Barovia (Ravenloft Campaign Setting).

The darklord of the woodland domain of Farelle is a jackalwere named Jack Karn, but his domain gets only the briefest mention in the original Ravenloft boxed set, before becoming lost in the changes wrought by the Grand Conjunction, an event which forever changed the composition of the demiplane. The secret history of Jack Karn is detailed in the Book of Sacrifices, another Netbook released by the official Ravenloft fan site.

The Cryptic Allegiances booklet in the Forbidden Lore boxed set details the Ata-Bestaal, a secret society who seek to transform themselves into animals, to benefit from the peace and serenity that they believe this will bring them. This group is currently fixated on lycanthropy as a means to this end, and have a number of infected werebeasts held captive in underground cells. Unfortunately, this includes a jackalwere, who is an "infected" member of the Ata-Bestaal. Of course, we know that this makes no sense whatsoever given that jackalweres cannot pass on their condition to anyone else. (And there we were, so close to the end of this article without anyone making that mistake. Alas!)

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Musaf ibn-Talir, Dragon Magazine Annual #2 (1997)

The Gothic Earth Gazetteer lists the jackalwere as an appropriate creature to use in Masque of the Red Death, Ravenloft's alternative Earth subsetting, and Dragon Magazine Annual #2 presents a jackalwere as one of its Villains of Gothic Earth. Named Musaf ibn-Talir, this wretch began life as an ordinary human resident of Jerusalem but fell into a life of crime, at first as a street thug, then as a robber, and finally as a blood-thirsty murderer, killing only for pleasure. Eventually he embraced the whispers in his head and became a servant of the Red Death, transforming into a jackalwere, so better to spread his evil, violence and pain.

[h=3]Computer games[/h]
At least two D&D computer games have featured jackalweres.

View attachment 73521
Sethir Ra, Ravenloft II: Stone Prophet (1995)

Ravenloft II: Stone Prophet features a cleric named Sethir Ra who can join the party, and in Icewind Dale: Trials of the Luremaster, there is an encounter with an elderly female jackalwere named Rikasha. She is quite friendly, and provides some important quest clues. The other jackalwere residents of the caves are much less amenable.

View attachment 73522
Icewind Dale: Trials of the Luremaster (2001)

[h=3]Jackalwere names[/h]
Ahln-Veer, Asaph abdul Anat, Bardan, Elfskinner, Erdlo, Hekkyl, Jack Karn, Jydde, Khalogo, Mahlmet, Marnis, Musaf ibn-Talir, Rikasha, Sethir Ra, Sister Kaylen, Torrence, Twaine Stone, Ulquar.

[h=3]Comparative statistics[/h]
For 4th Edition, the Jackalwere Deceiver was used for comparison purposes.
View attachment 73523

Monster Manual, p56 (December 1977)
Dungeon Masters Guide, p45, 128, 205 (August 1979)
The Dragon #32, pM8, "The Fell Pass" (December 1979)
Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits, p5, 11, 18 (June 1980)
Dragon #42, p12, "Patron Demons" (October 1980)
Fiend Folio, p113 (July 1981)
Dragon #54, p11, "Ruins: Rotted & Risky But Rewarding" (October 1981)
Dragon #68, p73, "Thrills and Chills: Ice Age Adventures" (December 1982)
I2: Tomb of the Lizard King, p19 (January 1983)
Monster Manual II, p82 (August 1983)
UK4: When a Star Falls, p6, (June 1984)
Dragon #91, p57, "Treasure Trove" (November 1984)
T1-4: Temple of Elemental Evil, p78 (August 1985)
N3: Destiny of Kings, p5 (February 1986)
C6: The Official RPGA Tournament Handbook, p57 (March 1987)
FR1: Waterdeep and the North, p27 (October 1987)
Dungeon #8, p24, "In Defense of the Law" (November 1987)
Dragon #130, p40, "Better Living Through Alchemy" (February 1988)
Dragon #130, p71-78, "If Looks Could Kill" (February 1988)
FR7: Hall of Heroes, p37 (February 1989)
FRC2: Curse of the Azure Bonds, p92 (March 1989)
Shadowdale (April 1989)
FRE1: Shadowdale, p28-29 (May 1989)
Monstrous Compendium Volume One, (June 1989)
FRE3: Waterdeep, inside cover (September 1989)
Dungeon #21, p55, "The Chest of Aloeids" (January 1990)
Ravenloft: Realm of Terror, p83 (June 1990)
The Horde Barbarian Campaign Setting, Volume II, p117, 123 (August 1990)
RA1: Feast of Goblyns, p5 (September 1990)
MC10: Monstrous Compendium Ravenloft Appendix (February 1991)
Forbidden Lore, Cryptic Allegiances, p18 (October 1992)
RA3: Touch of Death, p6 (October 1992)
DMGR5: Creative Campaigning, p25 (January 1993)
Dragon #189, p13, "The Dark Continent" (January 1993)
Monstrous Manual, p210, 230 (June 1993)
RR7: Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts, p20 (July 1993)
Book of Artifacts, p122 (September 1993)
PHBR11: The Complete Ranger's Handbook, p20 (December 1993)
Ravenloft Campaign Setting, Domains and Denizens, p10, 83 (May 1994)
City of Splendors, Campaign Guide to the City, p63, 66 (July 1994)
Hour of the Knife, p4, 7-8, 20, 28, 30-31, 34, 38-39, 41-42, 44-45 (September 1994)
Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness, p83 (October 1994)
Dungeon #53, p33-36, "A Serenade Before Supper" (May 1995)
The Gothic Earth Gazetteer, cover (November 1995)
Ravenloft II: Stone Prophet (1995)
Faiths & Avatars, p106 (March 1996)
The Rod of Seven Parts, Book II: The War Against Chaos, p3, 15 (August 1996)
Undermountain: Stardock, inside cover (January 1997)
Dragon #238, p21, "Villains, Like Fine Wine" (August 1997)
Dragon Magazine Annual #2, p115, "Villains of Gothic Earth" (November 1997)
Four from Cormyr, p127 (November 1997)
Dungeon #66, p22 (January 1998)
Monsters of Faerûn, p92 (February 2001)
Icewind Dale: Trials of the Luremaster (June 2001)
DYV1-01: Dine and Dash, p3-4, 9, 16, 20, 21, 25 (2001)
Blood Spawn: Creatures of Light and Shadow, p81 (January 2002)
Book of Sacrifices, p85 (January 2002)
The Tome of Horrors, p306 (November 2002)
Fiend Folio, p107 (April 2003)
D&D v.3.5 Accessory Update, p24 (July 2003)
Shadow of the Knife, p3, 8, 20, 29 (October 2003)
Serpent Kingdoms, p189 (July 2004)
Sharn: City of Towers, p176 (November 2004)
Dungeon #120, p20-37, "The Obsidian Eye" (March 2005)
NYR6-M01: A Lament in Entrell, p11-12, 18, 20, 23, 27, 30-31 (2006)
FUR7-03: Illusions and Dreams, p11-12, 15, 27-30, 32, 35 (2007)
HIG8-06: Dawn, p7 (2008)
Dragon #387, p83, "Alumni: Monster Manual" (May 2010)
Monster Manual 3, p120-121, 212 (June 2010)
ELTU3-6: True Blue, p33 (August 2011)
Dungeon #196, p66, 73, "Backdrop: Moonshae Isles" (November 2011)
Halls of Undermountain, p65, (April 2012)
SPEC5-1: Morthac's Mansion, p19 (January 2013)
Wizards of the Coast web site, Legends and Lore: Whose Story Is It, Anyway (March 2014)
Monster Manual, p193 (September 2014)
DDEX3-1: Harried in Hillsfar, p25-29 (August 2015)

[h=3]Other ENCyclopedia entries[/h]
Visit the Monster ENCyclopedia index for links to other entries in this series.


First Post
Terrific series. It seemed like this particular entry, as befitting such a bizarre (and sometimes goofy) monster, had quite a bit more snark in it than previous entries. It very much worked though, as many of the appearances of jackalweres over the years have been silly, intentionally or not.


Shirokinukatsukami fan
Terrific series. It seemed like this particular entry, as befitting such a bizarre (and sometimes goofy) monster, had quite a bit more snark in it than previous entries. It very much worked though, as many of the appearances of jackalweres over the years have been silly, intentionally or not.
I didn't plan it that way, but I don't think my snark setting ever really recovered from that "small platters of fruits and meats" business in Q1.
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Another Monsterpedia entry in the same month?

You're spoiling us, Echohawk.

I'm surprised you didn't mention that the Ravenloft version of the Jackalwere - the one in Creatures of Darkness (1994) - has some significant differences from the standard variety. The most notable of those are: they have more Hit Dice (6 instead of 4); they have a claw/claw/bite routine instead of just a bite (and their bite does slightly more damage, 1d10 instead of 2d4); they are vulnerable to bronze rather than iron; and finally every one of them is a 6th-level evil priest with full spellcasting and undead-wrangling abilities. The Van Richten Werebeasts guide you mentioned includes one such Ravenloft "True Jackalwere" named Abu al Mir.

The Ravenloft version of the Jackalwere is pretty obviously the basis for the Jackal Lord in the 3E Fiend Folio, although the latter is noticeably tougher, being an 8 HD / CL 8th level divine caster with some nifty spell-like abilities.

Curiously, the Ravenloft Jackalwere doesn't have a sleep gaze attack. The 3E Jackal Lord does have a gaze attack, but it's a 1/day ability that can turn an opponent into a jackal.


We often talk about people having house rules, but one thing that I think the Monster ENCyclopedia really impresses on me is how there is nothing but house rules. Even the canonical published content is so varied and so open to interpretation and so varied amongst editions that it has the character of being someone's house rules. And nothing is more natural than to suspect that a person who began in one edition, if they change between editions, might carry forward aspects of the conceptions they are already familiar with in either lore or mechanics.


Shirokinukatsukami fan
I'm surprised you didn't mention that the Ravenloft version of the Jackalwere - the one in Creatures of Darkness (1994) - has some significant differences from the standard variety.
But that's a werejackal -- a lycanthrope that can pass on its infection to other species. It's not a type of jackalwere at all, as far as I can tell.


Fantastic stuff as always! I assume that the enchanting singing of Torrence the jackalwere in Shadowdale is a result of confusion with the wolfwere's powers of soporific song.


First Post
A lot of words are "technically" incorrect.

Decimate, for instance, literally means reduce by 10%. Yet it is used to mean widespread destruction or devastation, even though the technical meaning (right in the word itself) is only 10% and minor.


But that's a werejackal -- a lycanthrope that can pass on its infection to other species. It's not a type of jackalwere at all, as far as I can tell.

Oh dang it, how did I make that error, of course I meant Ravenloft Werejackal instead of Ravenloft Jackalwere.

The AD&D Ravenloft Werejackal is certainly a Lycanthrope - its MC description even mentions it infecting humanoids. However, its 3E equivalent the Jackal Lord isn't a Lycanthrope, and I had that version in my mind rather than the 2E AD&D one.

Anyhow, I thought it worth a mention, since they're both Egyptian-themed shapechanging jackal-humanoids found in the land of mists.


These articles often help me to understand D&D monsters better, especially the ones I don't tend to use, such as those featured in the last couple of entries. Learning about how they were conceived and how they've been interpreted, misinterpreted and altered over the editions makes me think of ways in which I might re-invent them, irrespective of edition, in an encounter of my own devising. These articles aren't just fun to read, they really help me consider encounter designs I'd otherwise probably not have thought of.

Thanks again, Echohawk.


First Post
These articles often help me to understand D&D monsters better, especially the ones I don't tend to use, such as those featured in the last couple of entries. Learning about how they were conceived and how they've been interpreted, misinterpreted and altered over the editions makes me think of ways in which I might re-invent them, irrespective of edition, in an encounter of my own devising. These articles aren't just fun to read, they really help me consider encounter designs I'd otherwise probably not have thought of.
Well said! I just love this series of articles.

Jackalweres are indeed a somewhat puzzling addition to D&D's monstrous hordes. It's telling how badly they've been used in 'official' encounters. In my 3e D&D campaign shapeshifters played quite an important role, but I was strongly influenced by the The World of Darkness's take on them, i.e. in the Werewolf RPG. I prefer the idea that most tribes include animals that can change into humans and humans that can change into animals (in the oWoD Werewolf RPG, there's also the 'Red Talons' tribe that is exclusively lupine in nature). Hence, Jackalweres had no place in my game.

They're also a bit of a one-trick pony. Other shapechangers offer more variety and can thus be used in more interesting ways, e.g. the Rakshasa.


Shirokinukatsukami fan
Other shapechangers offer more variety and can thus be used in more interesting ways, e.g. the Rakshasa.
Plus, based on the luxurious surroundings that rakshasas are always illustrated in, they probably have even better catering than jackalweres.

Casimir Liber

First Post
For completeness' sake, I guess it is worth noting that Jenell Jaquays had jackalweres in an original AD&D version of Caverns of Thracia , before the module was tweaked to be comparable to D&D and they became Dog Brothers (with some really cool names :))

PS: Congrats on the summaries of monsters through the editions. Gives food for thought. I'm okay with the demonic origin :)

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