Swanmanes

Swanmane is the proper term for swan shapeshifters. Although they are also referred to as wereswans, they are not lycanthropes. The swanmanes of San Diego do not have a clan, but all swanmanes in the United States answer to the Swan King, Donovan Reece. Although swanmanes are rare, there are one to six of them in every major city.

Physique

Swanmanes are the recipients of the swan version of a shapeshifting curse. This cannot be passed on via infection, but is normally passed from generation to generation. Swanmanes typically can and do have children. Depending on the type of curse passed on, swanmanes can be made ageless, though most age normally.

Unlike most lycanthropes, swanmanes are not particularly strong, although they are faster and more graceful than humans. Their metabolisms are faster than human metabolisms, giving them rapid healing and a higher body temperature than humans, as well as increased appetite, but again not to the same extent as lycanthropes. Further, swanmanes can be hurt by pretty much anything that hurts a human (though again their individual curses may change this).

A swanmane's natural form is human. They are pale, often with delicate features. Swan royalty tend to have white, feathery hair - in fact, in the case of a true Swan King or Queen, these are actually down feathers. Swanmanes shapeshift into very large swans - no partial or hybrid form is known. Swanmane pelts are known to exist, so it is likely that they do not revert to human form upon their death. The transformation is much smoother and less violent than a lycanthrope's transformation, and does not drain the swanmane of energy. Changing shape does not heal a swanmane's wounds.

Metaphysics

Because swanmanes are cursed, they have the ability to shift at will (although it is possible that specific curses involve time restrictions). The lunar cycle does not affect their shifting patterns, and emotional states do not make it more likely that they will shift. Swanmanes also maintain full awareness of themselves during their shifts, beginning with their first shift (sometime around the time of puberty).

Swanmanes do have a hot aura that sensitives can pick up on, however this aura is not aggressive and prickling like that of a lycanthrope. The more powerful the wereswan, the more powerful this aura.

Swan 'alphas' are rare - however a Swan King and Swan Queen are usually born to rule (they are born with a birthmark in the shape of a swan, identifying them). Currently there is no Swan Queen, only a King. The Swan King is the most powerful of the swanmanes, and is linked to every swanmane in the United States. He can cause other swanmanes to change forms, and shield them from a vampire's call. However, all swanmanes in the United States can be fed upon through the Swan King.

Culture

Swanmanes are rare, but when more than one of them inhabit a city they flock together. All such flocks owe fealty to the Swan King (and Swan Queen, when applicable), but when the King and/or Queen are not present they look out for themselves. Because they all answer to the same royalty, they are not territorial, and tend to welcome newcomers with open arms, feeling safer in larger groups.

Instead of dominance and aggression, swanmane groups are organized around age/power and degrees of royalty. The Swan King and Swan Queen (destined to be mates) are at the very top of the social order, and within each flock typically the most powerful swanmane will lead.

On most occasions, swanmanes avoid contact with other shapeshifters - they are the only true prey shapeshifter, and most other preternaturals regard them as either beautiful collectibles, potential meals, or utterly irrelevant. Like lycanthropes, swanmanes are very casual about things like nudity and personal space. They are highly uncomfortable around predators, but are almost overly dependent upon their flock. The touch of their flock is a metaphysical as well as emotional reassurance.

Interaction with Human Society

Swanmanes are not well understood by human society. They are not lycanthropes, so they can avoid many of the prejudice associated with the disease, however not all humans see the distinction, and swanmanes are considerably less dangerous to hunt than most lycanthropes. For this reason swanmanes live a life of secrecy, aside from their own families.

Terminology

Ranks

Rank Description Term Origin Notes
Swan King - - A male swanmane, born destined to rule the swanmanes. The first Swan King in a century is Donovan Reece.
Swan Queen - - A female swanmane, born destined to rule the swanmanes. Normally a Swan King and Swan King are both born in the same generation, and destined to rule, however currently there is no Swan Queen.