So I’ve had an idea bouncing around for a bit, regarding the Elder Scrolls Online werewolf, and my werewolf character in specific.
First, a bit of history – you can skip this if you want, as it’s mostly just to give an idea of where I’m coming from. When I started, I made my usual Khajit and Argonian characters, which covers two of the factions in ESO, but I needed something for the third one. I also wanted to make a dedicated crafter, and due to the way the racial styles work and the rarity of it, I also wanted to make an Imperial character as that gives them the Imperial racial crafting style for free. So I hit on the idea of making a werewolf to give myself a “furry” type character without paying to unlock the ability to make any race on any faction. Looking at classes, I jumped at the Templar class, as the idea of a werewolf paladin presented an interesting dichotomy.
Once I actually got my werewolf bite, I found out there was a timer on werewolf form, and it was fairly short at first, though I quickly maxed the skill tree out, which does add some extra time – usually enough to last through a boss fight at least. As a paladin archetype, I was looking at white and gold armor, and I wanted to get some armor that hinted at her status as a werewolf in human form as well, and there happened to be a crafting style available that does just that as well.
As I was looking at making basically golden wolf-shaped armor, that actually reminded me of another franchise I enjoy – GARO!
Garo is a Japanese live action series, that was originally aired at midnights and advertised as a “Hyper Midnight Action Drama.” It was very clearly intended for adults, and focused on a main character in our modern world who battled what were essentially demons with just his skill, his sword, and a set of golden mystical armor he could summon. This armor is made from the same stuff as the demons(called Horrors), and he could only wear it for 99.9 seconds before it starts devouring him, body and soul. And it just happens to have a wolf motif.
I think you can see where I’m going with this.
The creator of Garo stated that he sees the armor as the equivalent of Ultraman’s Specium Beam – it is supposed to be a finisher. The main character will often fight without the armor until it is actually needed, and in one of the seasons it was literally used only as a finisher except when they had a real “boss fight” on their hands. This actually mirrors how I treat werewolf form on my character – I only pull it out on bosses and tough fights, since it can only be activated as a “finisher,” which is another part of what got the gears turning.
In the Elder Scrolls universe, werewolves are considered a curse by the general public, though followers of Hircine(including PC werewolves who go through the questline usually) consider it a blessing. There’s a questline in ESO which talks about losing reason and the beast taking control, and they found their own unique way to address that. The NPC involved in the quest seems to lose a lot of his reasoning capabilities, but the PC obviously never does, and at least in ESO you can still communicate with NPCs while shifted(though that could just be a conceit due to the fact it is a MMO).
The parallels just seemed to jump at me when I was driving, and I could totally see her using the werewolf from the same way the armor is used in Garo, and the timer is actually there for a reason, to explain why she can’t just shift and stay shifted unlike other werewolves in ESO. Like the armor has to be removed before it devours the user, she has to shift out to keep the Beast from fully taking control.
Now as I said, there are ways to extend the timer, and I can see ways for those to actually make sense as to why.
- Devouring corpses – This can’t be actual devouring, as it works on mechanical things like Dwarven machines. (I know, gameplay > lore, but bear with me.) I see this as taking the “heart” to honor Hircine, and Hircine, being pleased by this, interceding to grant additional clarity and extend the transformation time.
- Taking damage – I can see this as the pain is helping her stay focused. Each stab of pain from the hits reminds me of who she is, and when she is not being hit, the bloodlust of the beast starts to grow again.
- Running with other werewolves – Normally I don’t get to do this much, but this could be a similar thing to method 1. All the PC werewolves are servants of Hircine, and when they run together this magnifies his power/presence, allowing them to control the beast for much longer, and extending more for each werewolf manifesting their wolf shape.
- Feral Pounce ability – This one is the one I’m least clear on as to how it extends the shifting. Since you land rather hard, perhaps it’s just the shock of landing acting just like the pain from taking damage? Or perhaps focusing on the target for a precise leap requires enough concentration that it pushes back the beast slightly.
Even being force-shifted out in combat makes sense, as in Garo the protagonists have had to shed their armor a few times when they’re still technically in combat due to the timer.
But just like the protagonist of Garo, as a servant of Meridia I see her as a “mamorishimono” or “one who protects” as the translation goes. She honors both Daedra, acting under Meridia’s auspicies to serve the Light, but using the methods of Hircine in his aspect as the Hunter. I don’t know if there is a lore explanation for the limitations on werewolf form in ESO, but the above approach is my headcanon now on why it works for her the way it does.
Where there is light, shadows lurk and fear reigns.
But by the blade and claw of knights, man and mer are given hope.
(Side note: the production company for Garo did license the armors to Final Fantasy XIV, so you can actually earn them and use them in that game – but as far as I know it’s just for appearance and cosmetic use and doesn’t have any of the limitations etc the canon armors do. Especially since in the Garo-verse women can’t become Makai Knights, but that’s a whole other thing I won’t go into here.)