the Power of the Will Over The Flesh
Shapechanging: Difficulty 4
Rating: Levels 1-3: Acumen + (2x level)
Level 4 -6: Acumen + (3x level)
Level 7+ : Acumen + (4x level)
Base difficulty to halt or induce Shapechange: 15
Base time to fully Shapechange: 10 minutes / 60 rounds
The ability to change from one physical shape to another is buried deeply within most biological creatures, especially those possessed of strong volition. However, only those whose basic cellular structure is somewhat unstable will manifest this ability to any significant degree. Among these types of natural shapeshifters there are two different sorts -- those considered to be ‘undifferentiated shapeshifters’, born with somewhat flexible genetic structures that have no specific alternate pattern set within them, and ‘dedicated shapeshifters’, whose cells, through whatever means, have two or more complete genetic patterns contained within them from birth onward and who, under certain forms of stimulation, will shift from one of those genetic patterns to another.
The most typical stimuli for shape shifting is the full moon. For unknown reasons, those with more flexible cellular structures will find themselves involuntarily undergoing physical transformations from one form to another when the moon is full.
For an undifferentiated shapeshifter, with only one actual genetic pattern within their cells, these physical transformations are subtle, involving the release of various chemical compounds and other glandular secretions into the bloodstream that greatly heighten aggression and that significantly lower the capacity for higher judgment. Undifferentiated shapeshifters under the influence of the full moon tend to lose most if not all of their normal behavioral inhibitions and can become hyper aggressive to the point of violence, often without having any capacity to control their own more bestial urges. These emotional changes are often accompanied by slight but noticeable increases in physical strength, endurance, and tolerance for pain. If the stimulation source is removed, undifferentiated shapeshifters will generally find themselves extremely fatigued and will immediately lapse into a deep, restful sleep. If for some reason they are not allowed to sleep, they will generally be in extreme discomfort until they can.
Those shape shifters who, for whatever reason, possess more than one complete genetic pattern within their cells, will find themselves shifting from their more normal physical shape to their alternate genetic pattern when a change is stimulated.
Shapeshifters can learn to control the change, to the point where they can either choose not to shapeshift when a change would normally occur, or, they can voluntarily induce a shift in their shape when the natural stimulus for such a change is not present.
There are several forms of shape shifter that have been documented. Probably the most well documented type known is the serpentine race known as the Vrang, who seem to be somewhat anomalous, as they can apparently voluntarily assume nearly any shape they may desire. If the Vrang ever involuntarily shape shift, it has never been reliably observed or reported as to what form they take when they do so. It is possible that the normal serpentine form we are most familiar with is, in fact, an artificial form, and that no one has ever seen a ‘true’ Vrang.
There are several supernatural forms of shape shifters whose existence is at least rumored. A race, or group, of possibly necromantic origin known as the Sharps are mentioned in several documents in the Archives of the River College. Like most evil creatures of a necromantic nature, Sharps are said to be unable to withstand exposure to sunlight.
In addition to Sharps and Vrang, there are the Malkane, a mysterious and sinister race of inhumans, possibly of demonic origin, who reportedly have the ability to shift from a human like appearance to that of large predatory cats… lions, tigers, panthers, leopards, cheetahs, and various other forms.
Beyond these, accounts become extremely sketchy. Some scholars have seen very old documents from the Golden Archives of Sottli Ban referring to chaos demons known as feravelka, a phrase from the ancient Panthean tongue whose closest translation seems to ‘child of darkness’. And there are completely undocumented rumors, emanating from the preliterate Ulvane and Jeopard tribes regarding a supernatural race of ratlike creatures who under certain stimuli can shapeshift into more humanoid forms.
In addition, both the races known as ogresses and some variants of Daemon are reputed to be of monstrous, unnatural appearance, but reportedly can project illusory facades much more pleasing to the perceptions of their natural victims. More experienced Undead are supposedly capable of casting this kind of ‘glamour’ as well. This is not true shape shifting, although it should be noted at this point that truly ancient Undead, such as Nom Wayish of Sottli Ban, have demonstrated a capacity for true shape shifting into various forms such as wolves, bats, and predatory birds.
Involuntary shape changing generally occurs under the full moon, and can be triggered by other stimuli, as well, if the moon is in the sky at all, even if only as a crescent. Normally, if a natural, involuntary shape change is stimulated, it will take the full 10 minutes for transformation from one form to another to be complete. Some forms of stimulation, however, can hasten the transformation, as follows :
If a trauma causes the shapeshifter to lapse into unconsciousness under the influence of any moon phase, transformation to their alternate state will begin. Subtract twice the number of minuses from 60 to determine the number of rounds it will take the K.O.ed shapeshifter to transform.
If a moon influenced shapeshifter with the Attributes Bad Temper or Berserk fails any Willpower roll generated by these attributes, transformation will begin. Subtract [d4 + the level of the Attribute taken] in minutes from 10 to determine the number of minutes the transformation will take.
If a moon influenced shapeshifter sees or smells the blood of a hated enemy or a beloved comrade, their transformation will begin. Subtract [d6 + 3] from 10 to determine the number of minutes until transformation is complete.
Under a full moon, transformation will automatically begin as soon as the moon is above the horizon.
Once per minute after a transformation has begun, a shape shifter may roll off their Shapeshift rating vs. 15 to halt the process. If the roll is successful, the process will be halted for a number of minutes equal to [the amount the roll succeeded by] x 2. If this roll is made by 10 or more, ‘minutes’ becomes ‘hours’ in this formula. If the stimulus that began the transformation is still present after this time has elapsed, the transformation will begin again.
Shapeshifting can also be voluntarily induced when there is no natural stimulus present. Shapeshifter should roll off their Shapeshift rating vs. 15 to induce a change from one form (usually their ‘natural‘ or conventional form) to another.
To lower the amount of time required to complete a shape change, add 2 to the difficulty of the Shapeshift roll off per minute subtracted. Shapechange time cannot be reduced below one round/six seconds; the difficulty to reduce this duration to one round is 35.
Some races of shapechangers have developed various self hypnotic rituals to harness their concentration and make the initial Shapeshift roll off easier. These rituals take 5 minutes to complete and cannot be hastened. If a shapeshifter knows how to perform such a ritual, they may roll off their Precision vs. 4 to do so. If this roll succeeds, they may then reduce the difficulty to induce a natural transformation from one state to another by 10.
If a Shapeshift roll is failed, the desired effect does not occur. If a Shapeshift roll is failed by 10 or more, the Shapeshifter will suffer in addition a d4+1 in Esssential minuses.