I woke up this morning in one of those dreams where I wish I could have stayed asleep and seen how it turned out, because it seemed like a really great story was developing. Unfortunately, I can't really remember much; considering that I usually can't remember why I walked across the room, it would be odd if I remembered my dreams well. The key is not so much the actual narrative thread, since even as poor as my dream memory is, I know they are chaotic; if I remembered the whole thing I would see its reality shifting and jumping. What I really wish I could hold onto was the understanding that I feel, as I'm experiencing the dream, that I understand the dream world and how what I'm seeing fits into a bigger world that makes sense.
Mostly for my own amusement, I'm going to try to record what bits I can remember of this dream and why it was cool, in the hope that I might get enough to actually write a story later. If I can manage to capture the non-human psychology that I woke up feeling I knew, I might really have something.
The people in this dream might be called werewolves, though as far as I know they aren't shifters. They all have some wolf-like characteristics, though most of them are fairly human -- walk upright, have fully functional hands, wear clothes, use human-style vocal and written language. Some of them, though, are more wolf-like. The main character has paws rather than hands; he can stand on his hind legs but runs much better on all fours. He is people-smart but language impaired somewhat; while he can understand the human-style speech he can't speak clearly. There is another form of communication -- I don't think it is quite telepathy but it might seem like it to a human observer -- which allows fluent communication with the other more-wolves.
There is a war going on. The main character and the other more-wolves are valuable soldiers because their underlying emotional attitude to the war is like an engrossing, challenging game. The less-wolves are much more cowardly (or maybe sane in human terms) and see it as terribly frightening. The more-wolves can act effectively in combat and more importantly can inspire the less-wolves to also act effectively rather than panicking or shutting down. I am a bit fuzzy on the tech level of the world, but the best I can approximate it is black powder guns and bombs, but also primitive aircraft. There is some technical innovation through this long, ongoing war but no huge jumps. To fully realize the world, I need to understand what holds these guys back from really improving their war fighting tech since they are reasonably clever engineers with what they already have. But the course of the war is not determined by which side has better scientists.
The key character dynamic is between this main character, who is male, and a female more-wolf soldier on the same side in the war. They both command small units. There was a big battle where each of them captured one of the enemy towers which had controlled the field. When these towers were captured their side had one the battle, and in celebration of their victory, the female launched a crude rocket at the tower the male had captured. It is critical to the story that this is normal celebratory highjinks for these people, not an act of malice or treachery. His side should have easily stopped the rocket, but they failed, and at least one person the main character valued died. He is now sworn to kill her in revenge. There is some kind of retaliation that ensures that she returns the grudge. Later, some of her people capture him and deliver him to her tied up and helpless. If she had caught him herself, she would have been happy to kill him (and vice versa), but there would be no honor or satisfaction in killing him when he is helpless. They fall in love, marry, and have kids, both still alert for the proper moment when one of them will get the drop on the other and finish the feud.