Ecology of the Weregoose
In a recent Twitter RPG discussion, a friend revealed that a weregoose was the main villain in a small rural town. I quipped that at least it wasn't a wereswan, and got an immediate response that a weregoose would have a wereswan for breakfast.
After thinking about it, and discussing it with my daughter I realized that the commenter was right.
In this article, I consider the characteristics of a weregoose, and why they would be truly terrifying foes.
To fully understand a weregoose, and understand how its characteristics are enhanced in lycanthropic form, one must first consider the basic animal form. First of all, they are large birds. They are up to 3.5 feet long with a wingspan that can stretch over six feet. They weigh up to 14 pounds, and are sufficiently strong to break bones.
They are also very territorial, especially around mating season, so somebody wandering too close to a nest or a gosling may find themselves on the wrathful end of a goose attack. But their territorial nature isn't limited to season. I have watched two geese take over the entrance to an office building, forcing people to take other routes into work. Why did they do this? Because they like to cause problems.
They are also well known kleptomaniacs.
And they are social animals...they are best known as the honking V's that fly overhead at various times of the year, with members of the flock encouraging the lead bird who is allowing everybody else to draft, and going through natural cycles of who is at the head of the v.
In human form, a weregoose would probably be a person who is a natural trouble maker--almost certainly a rogue. In fact, they'd probably be a member of a small-time gang. They wouldn't be the leader, as that's responsibility. Rather, they might be the power behind the gang, who comes up with the wild ideas, and convinces everybody to go along.
In their human form, they would not be special, just different. They would go through the day doing odd but seemingly normal things. They'd probably go shopping, then stop in the middle of grocery store aisles such that people couldn't get past them. An weregoose office worker would have a truly fantastic collection of office supplies--you'd always have to be careful when "Gustav" borrowed your pen, because it'd be a near certainty that it would go missing.
The oddest thing about weregoose people is that their arms are just really long. You think you're getting up to get something, and the weregoose will just reach and get it for you. And for some reason, you don't think about how far they actually had to reach in order to get it...you just note that it must have long arms and sit back down.
It is best that weregoose children are brought up by weregoose parents. They have an uncanny knack of keeping them under control. Normal people attempting to raise a weregoose child would be frustrated by the child's gentle sweetness that is completely at odds by their need to steal, break, move or disrupt things.
A weregoose in goose form would be much like a normal goose, but would have the human intelligence to add to its normal mischievous spirit. Sure, it would steal, and annoy, and defend and startle like a normal goose. But it would use its high intelligence to setup far more elaborate and effective situations.
A normal goose will steal a spoon, a wrist watch, or a child's toy. A weregoose would figure out how to get into a building, and steal one piece of a 8 piece silver set, just before a major dinner event.
A goose would stand in front of a beach, and chase of swimmers. A weregoose would wait until people had laid out towels, and were sunning themselves. Then he'd crash into the middle of the beach, and loudly proclaiming through unholy honking that it had been there the whole time, and that everybody should flee as the hoards of hell were coming behind him.
Finally, weregooslings, those adoreable fuzzy little things wouldn't seem afraid when children came up to them, until they bit them and called for their parents to save them from the horrible human child.
All members of the weregoose species are chaotic. They may be good, neutral or evil, but a good/evil designation is really just an afterthought.
In fact, there is a well-known case of a weregoose that was in a military group known for being particularly evil. The weregoose would frequently let the prisoners go, not because it wanted to be humane or helpful, but just because he got to watch the chaos of the rest of the compound trying to find the prisoner, and secretly know that the prisoner was now living the life of a fugitive somewhere. Double chaos!
There are some things that are best left untold. Things that we were not meant to know. But in the interest of full coverage, we must speak of the middle "battle" form of a weregoose.
In White Wolf's Werewolf the Apocalypse TTRPG, they describe werewolves as having a variety of forms from all human to all wolf. But in the middle is their battle form, better known as their "crinos" form. In this state, the essence of both human and animal come together into a whole that is larger, stronger and more terrifying than either of its component parts. In fact, to see a werewolf in crinos form, as a human, is to go mad and reject what has been seen.
Picture, then, a person standing eight feet tall at the shoulder, with a 3 foot neck, and wide nimble arms that drag on the ground, can hammer through a steel door, or allow the creature to take flight. Feathers, and skin woven together on a body proportioned in Lovecraftian geometry.
The soulless eyes of this creature speak of one thing: chaos, at any cost.
Don't think to bribe it with a piece of bread. This badass alpha predator will burn down the bakery, and make toast in the flames.
And if you shudder, when you see a flock of geese harmlessly floating on the water at a distance, consider that this may actually be your body trying to reconcile what it saw, with things it cannot accept.
Weregoose vs Wereswan
Back to the question of the day...who would win in a battle between a weregoose and a wereswan. The answer is "not the wereswan" which is not to say the weregoose would win.
Swans are creatures of death--predators who seduce you with their beauty, then attack with ferocity and strength as they reveal themselves to be much larger and more fearsome than they first appeared. It was an image of this, overlaid with the human and lycanthropic elements that made me think that a wereswan would be unstoppable. And to a human this might be so.
But a weregoose is a different creature. See, the weregoose is not a creature of malice and destruction. It is a creature of chaos. So it is not as strong or deadly as the wereswan, but it also isn't interesting in fighting a battle to the death with one.
The wereswan would attack, and the goose just wouldn't be there. It would be stealing a tail feather from the swan, and wandering off. The swan would pursue the attack, only to find that the swan kept dodging the attacks, making the swan ever madder and more determined to kill. The enraged swan would launch into one of it's primary death attacks, and the weregoose would drop an anvil, not on the swan's head, but its foot. This would disrupt what the wereswan was trying to do, which would annoy it further. And since it's not an appropriate response to a battle to the death, which would be confusing. Also, where did it get the anvil? Have you even been paying attention. Go up and reread.
Ultimately, the wereswan would either escape the combat as unwinnable, or would have a stroke from elevated blood pressure. In the first case, it would be a no-winner situation, which would be fine with the goose since it wasn't really participating in the first place. In the second case, the weregoose would be the winner, but again not a big deal, since the goose already has the tailfeather which was its goal all along.
This header art for this article is called "Weregoose Time" by Finnish artist Seagull City, who I found on Deviant Art. The video game "Don't Starve" has a character named Cursed Woodie, who turns into various creatures if he eats monster meat. There are several official and unofficial renditions of this character, but this one captured the true chaos nature of a weregoose and was my must-pick choice for the article.