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So, it's easy for me to imagine how a Lich or Vampire or something similarly considered to be intelligent and persuasive and powerful and immortal could control a kingdom that is spreading across continental divides; however, it's difficult for me to think of a way that werewolves could do this without fundamentally altering the concept of "werewolf," so that it is specialized.

In most accepted fiction they're not immortal, they don't cast spells, and they are often given to mercurial temperaments -- none of these things seem like the kind of things that would lead to the unification or assimilation of cultures into an empire-sized nation.

Any idea how werewolves might be able to accomplish this? I am thinking something along the lines of werewolves being nobility or aristocratic and the commoners being human, but it just doesn't seem likely.

Sorry if my formatting is wrong or anything, I've been a lurker for a short time and only just signed up.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome to our stack exchange. Your question seems fairly simple: if humans can do it, werewolves should be able to do it too. They are normal humans most of the time after all. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Mar 28 '15 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ I've read your arguments but I don't think it's enough to stop them from unifying a large state. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Mar 28 '15 at 22:27
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    $\begingroup$ I assume you mean the werewolf that transforms at the light of the full moon and goes on a cannibalistic rampage. There are, after all, several different kinds of werewolf. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Mar 29 '15 at 1:28
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    $\begingroup$ "...who wants to be ruled by a Manchu, you know? Wouldn't the normal, every day Han folks just want to murder or oust them?" "...who wants to be ruled by the British, you know? Wouldn't the normal, every day Indian folks just want to murder or oust them?" etc, etc. This is a real-life scenario. $\endgroup$ – Leushenko Apr 3 '15 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ They sure would be against the use of silver coinage.... $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Apr 3 '15 at 22:14
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Something as simple as a cult of lupine deities would elevate werewolves to demigods or at least divinely blessed beings. It might be engineered by the werewolves as a means to attaining their status, or it might have started out as the werewolves' own religion addressing their specific existential concerns, which then spread naturally to the human populace.

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  • $\begingroup$ You know, that's actually a very cool idea -- like an Imperial Cult, but a degree above and beyond that. $\endgroup$ – theblackveil Mar 28 '15 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ Humans have shown no sign that being thought a god keeps someone from bumping you off and taking your stuff. Pharoahs, Roman Emperors, Divine Right kings... $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Apr 3 '15 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Oldcat If that's to be taken as an argument against the possibility of reigning on the basis of being thought a god, it patently contradicts itself. Pharaohs, right? Not "would-be pharaohs". Getting bumped off is, after all, an occupational hazard with every ruler ever. $\endgroup$ – Nikolay Ershov Apr 3 '15 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ Pharaohs thought of as gods. But you bump him off and take his job, then you are a god, so no harm, no foul. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Apr 3 '15 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Oldcat Don't know my Egyptian history well enough to comment on that, but that line of argument breaks down at feudal kingship stage where the notion of "usurper" was a hell of a big thing. And anyway, like I said, they were rulers to begin with, so I can't see how it's an objection at all. $\endgroup$ – Nikolay Ershov Apr 3 '15 at 22:28
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Oddly enough, there's another answer to this -- and that's pack structure. A society of werewolves (vs. an isolated afflicted werewolf) would likely form a strong pack structure, just like RL wolves do, and that would serve as the basis for government as the society continues to grow. As to humans? They'd be packmates, albeit of a lower order because of their lack of abilities...

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  • $\begingroup$ Hard to have a pack structure once you are distributed across the empire as rulers. Then you are your own pack. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Apr 3 '15 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Oldcat -- what I'm saying is that governments evolve out of smaller social structures $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Apr 3 '15 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ Sure - but a pack structure grows out of intimate contact. Spreading out breaks this down, so werewolves would have no natural advantage in pack law to work together. Quite the opposite, by biology a separated pack becomes two packs. So a werewolf ruling class would have all the issues a human one does, with the added biological imperative of pack law breaking each district into competing groups. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Apr 3 '15 at 22:11
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This entirely depends on your werewolf myth and what kind of setting this is in.

Is the werewolf completely indistinguishable from a normal person at all times except for one night a month when they transform and go on a rampage until dawn? In this case, there isn't any benefit from the curse, so they have no more or less ability to rule a kingdom than anyone else save for the problem of needing to be locked in a cell for a night (once a month they withdraw to a monastic cell to contemplate their faith in a secluded vigil - easy propaganda explaining why they are unreachable for that evening).

If the werewolf retains some measure of increased strength, improved sense, ability to withstand damage, etc., they become fantastic fighters. A pack of werewolves could become the most feared military force in the region as either the vanguard of their army or as an elite strike force raiding the enemy.

Not only can they dominate on the battlefield, but a tougher foe could be taken by the werewolves disguising themselves as harmless unarmed travelers to a rival city (just in time for the full moon). A pack of werewolves rampaging through the enemy capital may bring about their downfall before the war even starts.

Werewolves would not have much an advantage in a modern technologically advanced liberal democracy where rule is by gentile discussions of policy (at least in theory), but they would be unmatched in a feudal society where strength of arms to attack your enemies or defend your people is paramount. Distinguished veterans are afforded significant gravitas for their service even today, while back in the viking age werewolves could be truly legendary warriors afforded all the honors that could be given.

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Royal Sacrifice.

Each month two worst criminals of past month (or, if the month was peaceful in the law department with only smalltime fraudsters, the previous month) are chosen to be released into the Hunting Grounds on the night of full moon. It's the Hunt Night, and the Royal Pair is on the prowl, both proving their might, punishing the most abhorrent of crimes and gathering vitae to give them might to rule for another month.

Day-to-day they are wise and fair rulers, but beware if you anger them. After the ambassador of a neighbor kingdom taunted the queen for taking to plight of her citizens of border villages and providing them with food over the harsh winter, his lord received the foot of said ambassador, along with a letter explaining that the queen thanks for the meal so conveniently provided and the game so enjoyable to chase, especially in these difficult times; the food saved from the royal tables due to the meal so graciously provided was dispatched to the starving peasants.

Now, how they became the rulers? Well, possibly the royal heir was bitten by a werewolf. Or maybe the leader of a revolution against a tyrant happened to be a werewolf with a fairly good grip over the beastly form, leading the revolt and being accepted as the new king. Or it was the werewolf who committed a truly heroic deed, say, slaying a terrible dragon, and begged the king for sparing his life as the boon - and the king appeared even more generous than that.

Now for "the other half" - the werewolf king/queen later found a loving soul who was willing to look past the beastly nature and accept to share the curse willingly (which saves her/him from risk of becoming the meal in case of... accident).

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Let's look at history and use tribal empires like Mongols or the Islamic Arabs as an example.

First, werewolves have a strong pack like structure. This is similar to a tribe.

These tribes start with constant warfare among themselves. A diplomatic alpha leader unites the different tribes together and settles their differences.

They still go through years of constant war between themselves. But eventually the great alpha's team succeeds.

External threats and older empires grow worried of this unity. They try to hold them back or engage others to raid the united tribe.

The tribe has enough military experience at this point to succeed. The external threat that attacked them greatly underestimated them and left themselves vulnerable. The werewolf megatribe counterattacks and overruns those old empires.

Combine this with their ability to 'convert' others to the tribe by turning them into werewolves.

However at this point the megatribe's economy relies heavily on loot from successes. Their leaders, both political and military are all great warriors, not economists nor bureaucrats. They keep raiding and conquering to cover for expenses to a point where the empire overextends itself and collapses.

Also check out how theological Muslim empires like Ottoman and Rashidun caliphates treated non-Muslims. This could be a good example of how werewolf empires might treat and actively discriminate against humans, yet still live happily with each other side by side.

For example, both may have different taxation rates. Non werewolves would be exempted from military service but be taxed higher because they fall under protection of the werewolves. Some may hold high offices but not the highest offices.

Non military things like banking and internal affairs could be left to the humans. Colonial empires also provide great examples of this.

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You know, being a werewolf is not a blessing, it's a curse usually cast by a witch. Therefore, in order to run an empire a werewolf would have to 2 options:

  • The first would be to hide it. Obviously, this would be the hardest option: the smell, behavior and other dog-like actions would drag the attentions to this weird emperor. Besides, "what to say and do about that wolf that as been terrorizing our homeland and crops, Mr. Emperor?", would be a very common yet responseless question. I would go for the second option.

  • The second option would be to start in a not advanced civilization or a society that worshipes the wolf or other pagan gods. Because going to a modern and/or mind open nation and show yourself, would cause the terror on earth and would start a search to kill all werewolves. This would never happen in the above civilizations. For example, if a man would have come to Egipt thousands of years ago and given proof of being a werewolf, I have no doubt or question he would be immediately crowned king and labbeled as a semiGod. He would have the whole Egipt at his feet and would rule it easily. From there, he could expand and start wars for conquer. No one else would believe the Egyptians had a "semiGod" with them, so no one would panic and unite against the werewolves. And I'm sure the people would even bring their best lambs in sacrifice during the full moons. This is just an example.

Ok, we have proof he could sit on a throne. But could he rule it? Werewolves as I see it, would have the best instinct: human and canine. This would make him be an eximious warrior and leader. Smart, fearless... God knows what else. In a matter of hygiene, I really don't think his people would mind if the palace and his room would eventually stink. It wouldn't be pretty nor elegant, but who cares? Sure, there would be faeces and urine all over the place, but it would be a fair trade. The only part I see it all coming down would be at the expansion. Canines are the most territorial beings on earth. I'm sure the emperor wouldn't be different. He would want more and more and more, and eventually his people would suffer tremendous losses, hunger, and pain. Consequently, he would be burned alive, as no emperor should treat his people this way.

So I think in short-medium term, this would succeed perfectly as they expand more and more by the hands of a strange yet great leader. But in long term, as other nations unite to fight this empire, it's ruler wouldn't know when to retreat and spare some lives. In the end, it would fall.

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Considering that humans have had empires ruled by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Timur, Mohammed, and various of the Roman Emperors (Nero & Caligula spring to mind, but there are others) - to name just a few, why in the world would they have problems with werewolves?

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    $\begingroup$ Which Mohammed is that? Western education includes all of the other despots you mentioned, but i'm not familiar with an evil king Mohammed (since Mohammed Zahir was, by all accounts, a pretty nice guy). $\endgroup$ – Rowanas Mar 29 '15 at 12:43

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