The Little Big Book of Shapechanging



Introduction

Shapeshifting is the power which enables you to use your body as your canvas, reshaping it into whatever you can imagine...within limits.  With time, even those limits can be escaped from, however.  It is the specialty of Chaosians, but Amberites and Shadow dwellers can get in on it as well.

Shapeshifting has no prerequisites, although having a good psyche and endurance helps a lot.  Even someone with all human atttributes can shapeshift.  Not very often or very well, but they could.  It doesn't require the blood of anything, either.

Shapeshifting works virtually everywhere, just as well in the Pattern Chamber as inside the Logrus, although there are a handful of shadows where it doesn't work for some strange reason.  There are also some where it is limited to powers that entirely affect one's body only (ie, you could use Shift Wounds, but not Shapeshift Others or Absorb Mass).

Learning to Shapeshift

Learning to Shapeshift requires a teacher and the potential to shapeshift.  In general, just about any Amberite or Chaosian can learn to do so.  Shadow dwellers may require a story reason, although plenty of Shadows exist where everyone can shapeshift.

It takes weeks to months to unlock your basic forms, depending on your Psyche.  From there, it takes a few more weeks to months for each of the abilities up to Automatic Shapeshift.  Abilities beyond that tend to be highly variable as to learning times.

Basic Forms

When you first learn shapechanging, you pick your basic forms.  One of these is your birth form, the form which it is easiest for you to assume, although all three basic forms are very easily assumed by you.  For Amberites and Shadow dwellers, this is usually a human form.  For Chaosians, it is usually the demon form.  Amberites and Chaosians typically have three basic forms:  Human, Demon, and Avatar.  Shadow Dweller shapeshifters usually only have two of those forms, although some may have all three.  [Having three basic forms costs five points, having only two costs three points].  They also can, potentially, have Avatar as their birth form.

Human form is just that.  An utterly ordinary human form.  It's always the same appearance, though it ages as you age.  Higher shapechanging powers can enable you to impersonate other humans, but this form is unique to you.

Demon form (also called Combat Form) is an armored and weaponed form.  At its base cost, it gives you armor and weaponry about as good as a suit of chainmail and a couple of swords and axes, although you can invest more points into it to boost its capabilities.

Avatar form varies, dependent on what you are.  For Amberites, it's an animal form.  For Chaosians, it's some sort of elemental creature.  For Shadow Dwellers, it could be just about anything.

You can spend up to five points each on your Demon and Avatar forms, investing them with Item Qualities up to the 2-point level.  You cannot invest them with Item Powers.

Example:
Paul decides he wants to play a Shadow Dweller, a Werewolf.  In fact, just to be strange, he wants to be a wolf who turns into a man, instead of vice versa.  He goes ahead and pays the full five points for three forms.  His human form is just that, a human.  His Avatar is a wolf.  And his combat form is a wolf-man, half-human, half-wolf, a furry humanoid with claws and sharp pointy teeth.  He then buys the following qualities for those forms.
 

He has thus spent a total of 15 points on his basic forms - 5 for having the three forms, and 10 for the various qualities possessed by the form.

Minor Shapeshifting

Shift Body Parts

This is the first step, in which you become Mr. Fantastic, able to stretch or compact your existing body structures like play-doh.  You can turn your bones into stretchy stuff, then resolidify them to sustain your warped form.  This does not enable you to create new body parts, just to compact or elongate what you have and move your body mass around to some degree.  Useful for things like slapping someone from eight feet away, escaping manacles, getting a drink from the fridge without leaving your chair, and other such tricks.  But rather paltry by the standard of later powers.  But it's a prerequisite to just about everything.

Shift Wounds

In a matter of minutes, you can knit any wound back together, which makes you hard to kill.  On the downside, this takes time, so it's best done after the fight ends or while you hide somewhere.  If you're too cut up, you'll knock yourself out from the exertion this requires if your endurance is low.

Shift Features

At this point, you now have enough fine control to take on the appearance of other people.  It's child's play to disguise yourself as just some random person, and fairly easy to take on an appearance of your choice.  Imitating specific people requires you to spend time studying them, preferably naked if you want complete authenticity.  Even then, you may be spotted by your lack of their mannerisms.

This can be used in one's combat and avatar forms, as well as one's human form.  It takes minutes to hours, depending on how different they are in appearance.  It does allow one to change one's physical sex if one really wants to.


Automatic Shapeshifting and Primal Form

The next phase of shapeshifting is learning how to adapt to changing environments.  This is known as automatic shapeshifting.  At this point, the shifter learns how to consciously or subconsciously quickly change to deal with adverse conditions.  Throw him in a fire and he gets abestos skin and his lungs automatically filter smoke.  Fall in water and you develop gills.  Need to cross a burning desert?  You'll become heat resistant and your body will become more efficient in its use of water.  And so on.  The more Psyche and Endurance you have, the faster your body adapts.

Should stress levels become high enough, you'll automatically slide into primal form, which is how shapeshifters refer to the ultimate survival state in which you can adapt to just about anything.  Primal Form has the disadvantage, however, that you become survival obsessed and considerations like your friends, your goals, your towel, or your reason for entering the danger in the first place are forgotten.  You simply head for safety, regardless of other considerations, even if this means leaving your buddies to die.  With experience, you can learn to enter primal form automatically if you want to.


Impersonation Powers

Shift Persona

It's not too hard to imitate someone's body, but to pass as them convincingly, you have to learn to adopt all their little mannerisms, idioms, and tones of speech.  Otherwise, everyone will start thinking your imitation subject is acting strangely.  You now learn how to do this; this can even be used to take on a measure of their skills.  This is a somewhat risky thing, however, because you do it by shapechanging your own mind, and if the target has too much psyche, you may become buried by the persona, and lose your identity until the next time you sleep.

A Persona Shift will allow you to gain somewhat reduced versions of your model's Martial Arts, Weapon Skills, and Tactics while you imitate them. While this can give you a large boost to your abilities, it can also have hidden traps. For example, Damask (PS: Amber, MA: 5) Persona Shifts to imitate Minor (PS: 80, MA: 90) before engaging in Kung Fu Fighting. Damask is going to gain some scary fighting skills. BUT, Minor fights like a person with 80 points of Physical Strength. Imitation-Minor will fight like that too, even though they only have Amber, which could get ugly if someone hucks a huge boulder at her and instead of dodging she tries to catch or shatter it, like the real Minor would do.

Shift Aura

You now learn how to shapechange your aura, so that you can pass psychically as someone else--a plant, a normal human, your siblings...If someone overcomes your defenses, unless they have a serious psyche advantage, they will find what you want them to find.  Like Shift Persona, this is dangerous, as you may become submerged for a substantial amount of time if the other person's psyche is too strong for you.

You can use this ability to hide your Logrus or Pattern or Broken Pattern Imprint to some degree, making it hard to detect, and you can use it to change your 'trump phone number' so that existing Trumps of you will fail to reach you.

An Aura Shift can be used to gain a somewhat reduced version of the Psychic Finesse and Mental Endurance of your model. Keep i mind that the same caveats that apply to Shift Persona imitations apply here.
 


Creatures of Blood

Basic Creatures of Blood

Every cell of a shapechanger's body has the potential to become a completely new life form; with this power, you learn how to activate that potential, shaping some of your own body into a small, simple creature.  It can have up to Chaos in all stats, and a single power inherent in your blood (such as shadow walking or being able to shift its wounds shut or whatever)  At this level, such creatures make good messengers or spies, but little else.

It takes 3-5 minutes to create such a creature, depending on psyche, and the more endurance you possess, the more frequently you can make them.
 
 

Advanced Creatures of Blood

You can now create creatures with up to your body mass.  This includes duplicates of yourself or others, though they only have up to Amber in stats.  However, you can invest them with a number of powers inherent in your blood equal to the # of levels of Creature of Blood you possess.

You can also make blood creatures out of other people's blood.
 

Master Creatures of Blood
 

They can possess up to 1/3rd of your stats, and up to 1/3rd your points in your powers.  They can resemble real people if you so desire.  Over time, they tend to become independent as they respond to their experiences.  Should you so desire, you can now create simple creatures of blood from other people's blood if they possess Shapeshifting or Pattern Imprint.

It takes 5 minutes for every point of attributes (imbuing human takes 1 minute, Chaos takes 2, Amber takes 3), and 10 minutes for every point of powers.

The closer such creatures come to your body mass, the less frequently you can make them; this is modified by endurance.  If you possess the Absorb/Eject Mass power, you can simply keep eating stuff and cranking out Creatures of Blood as fast as you want.
 

If you possess Forms of Power, you can create blood creatures with the corresponding abilities.
 

Exalted Creatures of Blood

At this level, your Creatures of Blood can now possess up to 2/3rds of your stats and up to 2/3rds your points in your powers.  Advanced Creatures of Blood tend to become independent of you fairly quickly.
 


Shapeshifting Other People

Shapeshift Others

At this point, the Shifter learns how to extend his powers to affect other people.  This requires you to defeat the victim in psychic combat, which can take quite a while.  If they are willing, it is quick and easy, usually taking about as long as it would to perform the effect on yourself.

Imbue with Power

You now can not just use your shapeshifting on others, but you can attempt to fundamentally rewrite their very essence.  This works well on Shadow Dwellers, but Amberites and Logrus Initiates will eventually throw off the effects.  People can be imbued with any Shapeshifting powers you possess, and also with any Trump or Magical skills you wish to burn into them; similarly, they can be stripped of such powers if you're feeling cruel.  You must actually possess the powers to be imbued, but you don't need to possess a power you wish to suppress.

If you possess a suitable template (such as yourself), you can perform a blood transfusion and rewrite the target to effectively gain the Blood of Amber or of Chaos.  You can also suppress such blood in a person who possesses one or the other, if they haven't already walked the Logrus or the Pattern (in which case they're beyond your power).

This can be used to create an unstable possession-like effect, melding two or more beings together into one.  Sufficient application of Pattern or Logrus, a sufficiently skilled Shapeshifter, walking the Pattern or Logrus, or similar things will undo the effect, splitting the beings apart and probably leaving them with weeks of bad side effects.
 
 
 

Possession

This power lets you infiltrate someone's body and make it your own.  You effectively merge your forms together and gain the best of both worlds.  This can only be done either by consent (generally not very likely) or by utterly defeating the victim in psychic combat.  It takes about a week to do this properly, so you're advised to find somewhere you won't be disturbed.

The resulting form looks like the victim, and has his Strength and Endurance, while retaining your Warfare and Psyche.  If the victim possessed the blood of Amber or Chaos, you now possess it.  If they had an active Logrus or Pattern Imprint, you now have the basic Imprint if you didn't have it before, but all learned powers are gone and must be relearned by you.  (And yes, your new imprint costs you points if you didn't have it).  Walking the Pattern will not expel you from the body, as you have fused with it to become a new being.

If the victim had shapeshifting, your basic forms are replaced by his.  If he did not, your human form becomes his normal appearance, but you retain your own demon and avatar forms.

Be warned, this process is irreversible.  Also, you inherit any blood curses the victim may have suffered, but you don't gain any benefit of any good karma they had.
 
 


Miscellaneous Shifting Tricks

Shift to Animal or Plant Shapes

You can shape shift into any animal form of comparable mass that you have studied, i.e. that you have a full Psychic impression of.  In this context, 'animal' means an organic non-vegetable form.  These are Named and Numbered forms that you practiced in - you will not be clumsy or disoriented, so there is no bad effect on Warfare, Psyche, etc.  You can also get the locomotive abilities of the studied animal...flight, swimming, etc.  Other abilities such as poison, fire breath, etc. are beyond the scope of this ability and are part of Shift Anatomy and to Animal Abilities.

This power also allows you to become a plant.  The definition of what a plant is varies by Shadow, so in this context it means a largely non-mobile form that has the ability to gain sustenance passively. For example, in a hostile Shadow, take the shape of a local tree and you will have food and water enough to heal and rest without doing any work. Plant forms are particularly excellent for meditation and mental rejuvenation.  You also discover your Plant Form, an appropriate vegetation Basic Form.
 
 

Shift Anatomy and Structure, Shift to Animal Abilities

Instead of having to shift into animal form to gain the animal's ability, you can simply change your own form to add the ability.  For example, you can have your character sprout wings like a bird or a bat, or develop claws or armored scales.  In addition, you can move around, change, duplicate, and augment the body's internal organs.  Aside from the obvious benefits of generating two hearts, or a sub-brain, you can use this ability to regenerate lost body parts, which takes about a week of total concentration.
 

Absorb and Eject Mass

Many forms cannot be adequately done with the mass possessed by a Human sized character.  It is for this reason that a character with Shape Shift can use his/her power to absorb mundane Shadow Material into him/herself to take on sufficient mass for the desired form.  For example, when the Demon Servant, Gryll, came to Merlin to take him back to the Courts he lacked sufficient mass and size to carry Merlin on his back.  Gryll then proceeded to absorb some furniture from Merlin's room in order to gain the desired size and mass.

The Shadow Material which the character absorbs cannot be magical (living creatures can be absorbed, but you'll need to catch and eat them instead of just fusing with them).  It must be considered generally mundane in the Shadow in which the material exists in order for the Shape Shifter to be able to assimilate it into themselves.  This process increases the time required to Shape Shift greatly, adding up to 15 minutes, and if the Shape Shifter wishes to then go to a form with less mass/size he or she will have to expel the absorbed matter first, which will take twice as long as absorbing it.  Note that the character may not decrease their mass less than their smallest Basic Form's original starting total.


Forms of Power

Forms of Power (FoP) allow the shapeshifter to imitate creatures, Real or Shadow, who have abilities that go beyond the standard sort of thing available to humans or animals.

Assuming a FoP is one of the most draining things for a shapeshifter.  The longer the form is retained, the greater the chance of becoming lost in the persona of it, particularly for an Advanced or higher FoP.  Thus, shapeshifters learn FoP with the intent of using them selectively and for brief periods: for a single battle, for a quick journey through Shadow, etc.  FoP are not chosen as possible permanent states; they're exhausting, both physically and mentally.

When making lengthly journeys through Shadow in a FoP, the shapeshifter generally makes stops to rest in a natural or animal form for safety purposes.  If something (pursuit, for example) makes this impossible, the chance exists that too long in a FoP will begin to warp or even permanently change the shapeshifter's mind.  Shapeshifters learn to recognize the subtle changes of perception that are the first sign that a FoP has been retained too long.

Forms of Power are generally learned through intensive study of the creature, including Psychic contact, and are not easily come by, particularly the more powerful ones.

Standard Forms of Power

This allows the shapeshifter to imitate creatures who possess abilities that can only be described as supernatural, or who make use of the Magical energy of a Shadow. For example, the AD&D Beholder shoots eyebeams approximating spell effects, and Vampires are generally held to be able to do all sorts of things, from charming with a gaze to turning people into undead by drinking their blood. Imitating these sorts of creatures is now possible.

This power requires the character to study the creature closely, and preferably to make some mental contact with it at least once. It is very dangerous to attempt to take on a powerful Form of Power without good Psyche stats, as you run the risk of drowning in the alien mind of the creature. Psyche stats also determine the amount of power the creature will have to work with; how powerful those disintegration eyebeams are and how charming that charm gaze really is.

Advanced Forms of Power

This potent ability lets one incorporate some aspects of Real powers into their form, providing that they have access to the power themselves. For example, a Logrus initiate might be able to take on the form of one of the dread Chaos Dragons, which breathe Primal Chaos. A Trump initiate might be able to mimic one of the disembodied Ng, who live in the peculiar field of energy that Trump accesses. A Pattern Initiate might take on the form of a Shadow copy of the Unicorn.

Some very powerful creatures can be accessed this way. However, the creature must be studied (not always an easy task) and the shapeshifter must have a connection to the power the being accesses.

This also increases the potency of Standard Forms of Power.

Master Forms of Power

As per Advanced Forms of Power, except you no longer need initiation into the power of the creature you are imitating. So someone who's never taken the Logrus could imitate a Chaos Dragon, with access to all its abilities.

This also increases the potency of Standard Forms of Power and Advanced Forms of Power, up a level from the previous FoP grade.

Exalted Forms of Power

This lets you do things like imitating the Serpent or the Unicorn. It is mind-bogglingly dangerous and hard to control. Otoh, it is the key to vast wadges of power.

This also increases the potency of Standard Forms of Power and Advanced Forms of Power, up a level from the previous FoP grade.



 

SHAPE SHIFTING--Partial Powers Writeup

Basic Forms Shapeshifting: 5
Shapeshifting: 35
Advanced Shapeshifting: 65
Master Shapeshifting: 100 (Cannot be taken during character creation)
Exalted Shapeshifting: 125 (Cannot be taken by Player Characters, period)


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Last Update May 20, 2003