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Shifting

The Shifting tongue grants the ability to manipulate biology and alter one’s own form according to whim and will. Master Shifters are capable of slipping between different bodies as easily as others change clothing.

Also known as: Slipskin, Werecreature, Skinthief, Therienthrope, Protean
Restricted to: Humans
Power over: Emulation, Combination, Originality, Healing

Shifters have learned the words that define their very form, and by doing so have learned how to change it. The earliest iteration of their power typically manifests as a particular affinity for, and gift for communicating with certain breeds of beast. Shifters gain forms by learning the words used to create the myriad species they mimic. In the process of shifting the way one thinks also shifts. An ever present danger lies in the potential to become so bestial in form that reverting to ones ‘original’ body becomes impossible. Shifters do not need to speak aloud to change, it is enough to merely think the quicksilver thoughts of a Shifter to change oneself. The words do need to be vocalized to have a direct effect on others, and those others must be willing for this to work. A Shifter cannot shift an unwilling subject. The duration of a shift is as long as a Shifter wishes but the longer held, the more difficult it becomes to revert to the original form. The more proficient Shifters are capable of feats beyond mimicry of the beasts; they can hybridize, combing multiple features to create specialized chimerical forms. The highest art is the shifting of the body to an original form, a shape unique to the Shifter’s very spirit. The most benign power given to Shifters is the ability to heal themselves and others, mending their own natural form.
The danger of Shifting is that one can fall wild and become trapped in the body and mind of a beast.

Shifter Core – Morpheme

This represents the general skill of the shifter. Advancement costs 5xp times new level. The Shifter cannot advance any specific shifter ability above their Shifter core level. For example, if they have a shifter core of 2 they can have a maximum Active Regeneration value of 2.

Abilities

Each of the abilities below must be purchased and leveled up separately. Advancement costs 5xp times new level.

Passive Regeneration

All shifters passively heal an additional point of health/week equal to their base level in Shifter. They gain the ability to heal from more grievous wounds as well, such as missing limbs or organs.

Active Regeneration

The shifter can channel a portion of their focus to enable rapid regeneration. This can be done 1/day and requires a Will + Shifter Core + Active Regen check. The Shifter heals a number of health listed on the healing table below.

Shape changing

The Shifting tongue allows the Linguist to take a form similar to that of any creature they are sufficiently familiar with. Gaining familiarity entails close exposure to the species in their natural habitat over a length of time equal to the creature’s difficulty rating in weeks. As a result, there is considerable danger for those Shifters who seek to learn the forms of the most dangerous wildlife. Due to the limitations of mass/size differences the Shifter-form is often noticeably larger or smaller than a natural example of a natural version.
Each form a Shifter learns entails a special subset of knowledge and most find it difficult to learn more than a handful of forms. Each level taken in Shape Changing grants the Shifter 1.5 form slots. E.g. at level 1 they can know 1 form, at 2 they can know 3 forms, etc.

Rank Duration of Shift
1 1 hour, Will check every hour after, target 18
2 12 hours, Will check every 12 hours after, target 17
3 24 hours, Will check every 24 hours after, target 16
4 1 week, Will check every week after, target 15
5+ Indefinite

Taking on a new form is no simple task. The Shifter must maintain their concentration through the breaking of their bones, twisting of muscle fibre, sliding of skin and reconfiguration of their very organs. To take a new form (including their original form) the Shifter must take 3 stress to roll a Will + Shifter + Shape changing with a base difficulty of 12 + the difficulty modifiers shown on the Difficulty table below. Failure on a roll indicates the shape changing failed and the character takes an amount of health damage equal to the range of failure. A character reduced to zero health by a failure is left comatose for a number of hours equal to the failure range. A roll of 20 indicates a flawless shift and the Shaper can refund the stress spent on the roll. A roll of 2 always indicates a failure. Shifters who spend too long in an alternate form often find their mind pulled by the natural urges of that form. For example, a Shifter who takes on a predatory form for too long may find it harder and harder to control their prey instinct, turning on their allies, while a Shifter who takes on a herd or prey form is constantly fighting the instinct to flee. Each time the Shifter fails to resist this urge they become slightly less focused, increasing the difficulty to shift to any other form by 1. The higher the Shape changing level the longer they can sustain alternate forms without risk of losing control and the easier it becomes to resist that urge.
Each form has its own set of attributes. Consult the form table below for example values but consult with the storyteller to determine the exact traits of the form.

Form Type Example Species Aspect Modifiers Abilities and Attacks
Small Predator Fox, Weasel, Snake, Monitor +1 Grace, -1 Intellect +2 Survival, +2 Stealth, 1/2 Environment Penalties
Predator Wolf, Hyena, Lion, Alligator, Yeligwi, Jaghund +1 Grace, + 2 Power, -1 Intellect, -1 Will Low Light Vision, +2 Survival, Attack: Claws – 4D, Attack: Bite – 3D + Grapple
Apex Predator Vargr, Bear, Grommen, Faeles Ur +3 Power, +2 Grace, -1 Intellect, -2 Will Low Light Vision, +3 Survival, Attack: Claws – 5D, Attack: Bite – 4D + Grapple
Hyper Predator Ursu, Tyrn, Uzhas +5 Power, + 1 Grace, -2 Intellect, -4 Will Health +5, Stress + 10, Attack: Claws – 6D, Attack: Bite – 5D + Grapple
Pack/Herd Horse, Camel, Llama, Daedon, Elk. Gazelle +2 Power, +1 Intuition, -2 Will +50% Speed, +2 Athletics, Attack: Trample (3D)
Prey Rabbit, Hog, Rat, Lesser Primates +2 Grace, +1 Intuition, -3 Power, -3 Will Keen Senses (+1 Perception) Evasive (+2 Defense)
Avian Raptor, Raven, Condor, Urvogel, Bat +3 Grace, -3 Power “Flight, Evasion (+5 defense), Attack: Rake – 3D”

Difficulty

Shape change Variable Difficulty Modifier
Size – Tiny 4
Size – Small 2
Size – Medium ‘0
Size – Large 2
Size – Huge 4
Size – Gargantuan 8
Type – Common 1
Type – Unusual 3
Type – Rare 4
Type – Unique 5
Danger – Prey/Pack ‘0
Danger – Predator 2
Danger – Apex Predator, Avian 4
Danger – Hyper Predator 6
Engaged In Combat 2
Practiced Form (has been used at least once) -1
Aberrations (e.g. Glutor, Evicar, Brog) 5
Wounds +1/wound
Quasi-human (Bellatori, Oneiri, Tamaa) 10

Example Form Abilities

The following abilities are intended to be an list of inspirations and are not comprehensive.
Basic: Speed, Strength, Stamina, Digestion, Resistance to Poison, Enhanced Healing
Advanced: Electrical Discharge, Echolocation, Magnetic Sense, Direction Sense, Aquatic Breathing, Hibernation, Longevity, Non-verbal communication, Venom/Toxins, Silk-weaving,

Splitting

The Shifter takes a form with multiple bodies such as a pack or swarm. Each splinter is a fraction of the whole Shaper, a single node in a greater network. Very few Shifters possess the skill or will to take form in multiple bodies. Most Shifters who attempt it fail in transition, and the handful who succeed still face a considerable risk of losing any sense of coherent identity. Taking the form of a hundred bats each diverging slightly, each pulling further from the axial personality. For the very few who can successfully transition and maintain control of a swarm the act is not within significant benefit.

  • The shifter cannot easily be killed
  • The shifter can undertake multiple simultaneous actions
  • The shifter can be in multiple places simultaneously

Each Level in Splitting reduces the difficulty of taking a splintered form.

Splitting Table

Rank Injury Range Damage Taken Success Range
1 2-24 8 25+
2 2-19 7 20+
3 2-18 6 19+
4 2-17 5 18+
5 2-16 4 17+

Favoured Form

The Shifter selects 1 particular form. This form becomes easier to take and leave, can be maintained for longer, and gains benefits to its stats. All other forms become more difficult to take and leave. Shifting to a favoured form incurs only 1 stress, the difficulty is reduced by 5, and the Shifter is not damaged by failures. Shifting to all other forms incur double stress and all failures incur damage.

Heart Stone

A rare and taxing ability available only to fifth level Shifters that enables them to create an embryonic replica of themselves granting Shifters a crude sort of immortality. This hardened replica is inert until the Shifter’s death at which point the ‘stone’ awakens, a diminished copy of the original. Creation of a Stone is no small task, requiring the Shifter to sacrifice 4 points in Will and 2 Power and take max health -1 damage as they literally duplicate their body. This damage cannot be healed with active regeneration. The replica cannot awaken until the original dies and the replica’s memories are foggy and limited to the period prior to their creation. The Replica’s aspects are all 1 lower than the original Shifter.

Apotheosis

Shifters who develop a truly profound knowledge of the Lingua Arcana come to understand the true nature of shape and form, attaining an altered state of existence known as Apotheosis. In this state the Shifter abandons any sense of ‘true form’ and becomes perfectly mutable. To begin the path towards Apotheosis the Shifter must master five separate forms. Each time the Shifter wishes to ascend a level in Apotheosis they must spend a full day and night in formless flux, maintaining the state between forms. During this period, they are entirely helpless as their body and mind are lost between forms. In this protean state they are a magnet for ancient beasts and aberrations guided by a deep instinctual desire to destroy the Shifter. If they survive this the Shifter achieves a new state of being. By the end of this path the Shifter is closer to Celestial than human.

Level 1: The Shifter no longer needs to spend extended time with a creature to learn its shape. A single observation role is sufficient to learn a form. They are also no longer impeded by size, able to draw organic material from the environment to increase their bulk.
Level 2: The Shifter regenerates at an astonishing rate. All known regeneration effects are tripled.
Level 3: The Shifter can change the forms of others who are willing, to grant them minor alterations. Their own hybrid traits can now be sustained indefinitely.
Level 4: The Shifter can apply significant alterations to the forms of others who are willing. This includes placing others into an entirely new form or reverting Shifters lost in an altered form to their original shape. Maximum subjects = Apotheosis level.
Level 5: The Shaper can become protean at will and gains the ability to communicate directly with Celestial entities without risk of madness. They take no damage from mundane weapons and can create temporary doppelgangers at will.