The New Notion Club Archives
The New Notion Club Archives



Tolkien uses the term Werewolf in a context very different from the “standard” RPG (and cinematic) usage:

 Sauron was become now a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, 
foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, 
misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; 
his dominion was torment.

—The Silmarillion. Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin

The nature of these werewolves is explained in more detail later, and here Sauron is explicitly mentioned as their master and even “creator”:

[...] and Sauron brought werewolves, 
fell beasts inhabited by dreadful spirits 
that he had imprisoned in their bodies.

—The Silmarillion. Of Beren and Lúthien

[...] the Dwarves became troubled, 
[…] Wolves there were, 
or creatures that walked in wolf-shapes, […]

—The Silmarillion. Of Beren and Lúthien

Thus Tolkien’s original werewolves are regular (albeit very large) natural wolves in whose bodies “dreadful spirits” were imprisoned.

A Werewolf

Sauron originally produced Werewolves (S. Gaur) by magically altering his minions' forms so that they became huge, enchanted Wolves. He created also others by placing undead spirits in the bodies of great Wargs.

The greater Werewolves were Maia-Spirits of great power while the lesser Werewolves - or true Wargs - were but mighty undead beasts.

These creatures could alter their form so that they were able to stand upright and use their clawlike hands, but they couldn't transform themselves into Men. While Werewolves possessed the intelligence of the Secondborn — and though they would speak, use tools, and cast spells — they remained Wolf-like in their nature. Only a few maiarin Werewolves still possessed the ability to change their form into a more human-like appearance.

Division & Nomenclature

  • The “natural” werewolves are also called “Great werewolves” (S. belegaur) i.e. who have inherited the ability like Maia-spirits or for whom this ability was granted by the Valar for specific reason (specifically Oromë incognito).
  • The “created” ones are called “Lesser werewolves” (S. pîngaur):
    • “Hound of Sauron” (S. hûgorthaur, pl. huigorthaur) - tempted spirits closed inside the wolf body
    • “Man-wolf” (S. bengaur) - The skin-changers, enchanted men who are able to take form of upright wolf.


In MERP, the Term Werewolf is also sometimes applied to mannish-werewolves, shapeshifters or beastmen, created by Dark Magical experiments.One source of these mannish werewolves was he Shapeshifter-disease, a magical plight created by the Necromancer of Dol Guldur.The Scara-Hai were an orcish tribe and breed of Mordor-Orcs who had the werewolf-like ability to transform into great wolves.

Werewolves of Renown