Shapeshifting is a power which does not have to be taught (though it is much easier to learn that way). Instead simply a great desire for it, or at least for something which the subconscious could interpret as it can bring it on; this is probably a holdover from the origin of humanity in Chaos.
Because of this, although it does not have as much active power as Pattern or Logrus, it is just as 'real' a power as either of them.
Clearly shapeshifting is one of the fully Real powers. It works throughout shadow and, as Dara demonstrated, works even on the Pattern. However, the stress of walking the Pattern made Dara's shapeshifting work without her conscious control, and others of Amber blood who are shapeshifters will almost certainly show similar effects when walking the Pattern.
The most important statistics for shapeshifting are Psyche and Endurance. Psyche governs the maximum rate at which changes can be safely made (if shifting is done at a faster rate there is the risk of injuring oneself, or even worse of inducing Chaos Cancer into oneself), while Endurance governs both how long one can keep shifting shape, and also how long a form can be maintained once it is achieved. Because of this a typical Chaosite, with both of these statistics at roughly Chaos ranked, will be both slow at shifting shape and unable to maintain any form other than their Avatar or Demon form for very long, even if they are a full shapeshifter.
Note that the Resume True Form Power Word can force a shapeshifter back into their true form. However, the effects of this Power Word vary with the target, and will tend to force them back into what they see as their True Form. That is, some people may see themselves as human, others as demon, others still as their Avatar form, and it is that form into which the Power Word will force them...
Shapeshifting comes in two basic levels of knowledge, the basic and the advanced. However, the advanced knowledge divides further into three branches which are essentially independent of one another. These are:
Cost : 35 points
With basic shapeshifting ones clothes do not change with you (that requires the Mould Matter portion of Advanced Shapeshifting); however, in Chaos, at least, it is common to have clothing which shifts to accommodate the changes in ones body.
- AVATAR AND DEMON FORM (5 points) - the most basic shapeshifting power, the bringing out of ones basic alternate forms. These can be larger or smaller than basic human form, the extra mass generally being gained or lost from the air (with a rush of wind). The amount by which these forms can be larger or smaller is dependant on Endurance.
- The Demon (or combat, or war) form is optimised for combat above all else, and as such it has intrinsic Extra Hard claws, teeth etc., and intrinsic armour which is equivalent to Resistant to Normal Weapons.
- The Avatar form is, to some extent, a reflection of the shapeshifter's personality. It is a living form, but other than that there is little it cannot be - it can be an animal of some kind (more common for Amberite shapeshifters) or an elemental form (more common in Chaos) or something else such as a plant-based or non-combat demon form.
- Elemental Avatar forms need to be regulated by the GM to ensure that they maintain game balance. For example, a fire elemental form is useful, but it should not give the character fire-related super-powers (though enhancement of one's abilities in fire form may be possible via spells or items) and will be vulnerable to (for example) large amounts of water. Likewise, an intangible, transparent air elemental form could be able to fly and be hard to see and hurt, but cannot do very much when in that form. There is also the question of what counts as an 'element'. In the West of shadow Earth there are four - earth, air, fire and water - but other cultures on Earth include other things, such as metal, as elements. One could certainly make a case for ice, electricity, light, darkness and so on being elements too. I would be inclined to allow any and all of these if a character wants one of them as an Avatar form, with the caveat that their abilities should be checked to ensure that they are not unbalancing.
- Note that the difference between a shapeshifter's three base forms (their base human form, their Avatar form and their Demon form) and any other forms they may know is that the three base forms require no effort to maintain at all, and one will not leave any of them and revert to another form if asleep or unconscious. Other forms do require effort to maintain and cannot be retained while asleep or unconscious.
- SHIFT FACE AND BODY (5 points) - what it says, basically. This power also includes the ability to permanently change ones appearance, slowly (over months) and with some effort of constant concentration until it is done. It also allows faster changes which wear off if the user sleeps, falls unconscious, or otherwise stops maintaining them. This ability does allow a shapeshifter to mimic the appearance of others (with study) but only physically - there is no imitation of mind or psyche.
- HEAL WOUNDS (5 points) - as per the ADRP rulebook. The shapeshifter must be conscious for this to occur, unless they also have Automatic/Unconscious Shapeshifting. Even then it is faster if the shapeshifter is conscious.
- MAJOR EXTERNAL CHANGES (5 points) - the shapeshifter can adopt learned animal forms and make similar changes into a non-human form. They gain the abilities of learned forms (such as enhanced senses) but will not, in general, be able to adopt those abilities independent of the form from which they derive (so one could take on the form of a bird and fly, but not add wings to your human form and expect to be able to fly). As with Shift Face and Body, above, these changes wear off unless maintained. This ability allows one to learn elemental forms if one should have the opportunity to do so (see above for more on this).
- INTERNAL CHANGES (5 points) - as shift internal structures in the ADRP rulebook. The shapeshifter can move and rearrange their internal structures at will. As with Shift Face and Body, above, these changes wear off unless maintained or unless months are taken to make the changes permanent - which can be an advantage if one unwittingly makes a mistake when shifting ones organs around!
- ANIMAL ABILITIES (5 points) - as shift to animal abilities in the ADRP rulebook. The shapeshifter can take on the abilities of animal forms they know (such as enhanced senses) without fully taking on the associated animal form. As with Shift Face and Body, above, these changes wear off unless maintained or unless months are taken to make the changes permanent.
- AUTOMATIC/UNCONSCIOUS SHAPESHIFTING (5 points) - as in the ADRP rulebook. This also, if allowed, will automatically adapt the body to physical tasks being performed (not combat, as that has too much involved, but, for example, running, climbing, or digging).
Note the order given is above is how adults generally learn to shapeshift. Children learn shapeshifting in an entirely different order :
- AUTOMATIC/UNCONSCIOUS SHAPESHIFTING
- AVATAR AND DEMON FORM
- HEAL WOUNDS
- SHIFT FACE AND BODY
- MAJOR EXTERNAL CHANGES
- INTERNAL CHANGES
- ANIMAL ABILITIES
Also, pregnancy has effects on a shapeshifter's abilities. The growing baby somehow inhibits the power where it would affect them - that is, shifting the womb and other essential areas. Only a shapeshifter with the advanced ability Mould Living Non-Self Matter can overcome this limitation. Even then it is not considered something which is good for the child.
Depending on ones heredity (for example the amount of demonic blood one has) it may be impossible for one to shapeshift into a fully human-seeming form. This was the case with (for example) Dara's mother. A character with this problem does not suffer any other limitations on their power, but it does have an effect in Chaos society, where they will be looked down upon for having too many 'demons in the woodpile'.
If this is the case (which applies to Chaos characters only), then the total cost of the Shapeshifting power remains the same, but the character has a 5 point disadvantage, 'Excessive Demon Blood' which effectively reduces the total cost of the power to 30 points.
Total Cost : 50 points [60 points]
Advanced Shapeshifting is either enhancements to the basic power, extending ones control of mass/matter to things other than ones own body, or altering the mind to disguise it and/or gain non-real intrinsic powers. It is, of course, possible to learn all of these things.
Like basic shapeshift, any kind of advanced shapeshift does not have to be taught, but is much easier to learn that way.
This divides into three 'paths':
- ENHANCEMENTS : Cost 25 points in total
- These are all things which enhance basic shapeshifting but are unrelated to other enhancements to the power; they can be bought individually.
- FLUID FLESH (10 points) - faster and easier shifting; more drastic changes for the same effort, or much easier shifting into learned or easy forms. Only with this enhancement can shapeshifting be controllably used in combat. It also allows the shapeshifter to make essentially permanent changes much faster than normal, and heal wounds at a greatly increased rate.
- SHAPESHIFT BLOOD (5 points) - as in the book, creating normal creatures from ones blood. This can be combined with Empowerment or the 'Mimic Intrinsic Powers' Advanced shapeshifting ability to create enhanced blood creatures. All blood creatures have an all-over coloration which is the same as that of the blood of their creator; this cannot be changed. Obviously a shapeshifter cannot create too many blood creatures, or ones which are too large, without starting to suffer from the effects of blood loss.
Note that there is no technical reason why one could not create similar creatures out of other bodily fluids than blood, such as tears, saliva or semen (sweat or urine would not be suitable for this, though, as they are waste products). If one has the 'Aborb/Shift/Shed Mass' ability one can shed actual real living creatures, rather than things formed of liquid held in a given shape by this power.
- BERSERKER (5 points) - a shapeshift-enhanced ability to just Keep Going, with a process similar to automatic shapeshift, but geared to fighting rather than self-preservation, primarily by overriding the normal 'cut-offs'. Everything is seen as a matter of combat. This will kick in when shapeshifter is hurt and generally runs until everyone else has fallen down or run away. A wound has no effect unless it is enough to kill the berserker at a stroke; other than this it will heal essentially instantly. Chopping off parts of the berserker deprives the berserker of that part until it grows a new one (which will not take very long); merely cutting deep into it won't even reduce its co-ordination, as the berserker is running on shapeshift, rather than its nervous system. However, chopping off parts does allow the berserker to be 'whittled away'. Endurance has some effect on when one stops, but if there are still things to hit, the berserker will probably push themselves until they fall unconscious. Note that berserk combat style is not at all geared to self-preservation; the berserker will generally fight in fully offensive mode at all times. Their ability to distinguish anything other than 'target' is limited, especially as they are under the control of their unconscious, not conscious, minds. Stuff is relevant here, but the character is generally out of the players hands while using this ability...
- This enhancement is inspired by the power of the same name created by the LintKing.
- SWARM FORM (5 points) - the shapeshifter can split themselves up into a swarm of creatures of some kind - rats, birds, insects or whatever - and act as that swarm. Each swarm can consist of only one type of creature at a time. It has the advantage that the individual elements of the swarm can keep acting in whatever way even though other parts of it may have been damaged. And it is hard to stop a swarm without some kind of area effect attack because they are all independent creatures. There can be problems for the shapeshifter if they lose a large percentage of their swarm form in that they may reform smaller or less intelligent than they started out, or if the swarm is physically split up in some way, in which case the swarm creatures could be used against them, or they could potentially reform as two individuals of different sizes.
- In the most basic Swarm Form the creatures making up the swarm are not intelligent, having the brainpower of a real version of the creature. However, the shapeshifter can 'pre-program' them before they split with a desired set of actions, though these have to be at a level the swarm creatures can comprehend (for example, 'attack that person until they stop moving, then reform into me').
- If in addition to Swarm Form the shapeshifter has Mimic Intrinsic Powers then by putting two points of into Ranged Psychic Sensitivity the shapeshifter can retain their full intelligence as a swarm and act as they normally would.
- MOULDING MATTER : Cost 15 points
- MOULD UN-LIVING NON-SELF MATTER (5 points) - on touch the shapeshifter extends their shapeshifting to inorganic and un-living matter, changing it to their will. This takes considerable concentration. They can change both the shape of a thing, and alter its molecular and atomic composition, with the difficulty of doing so increasing in as one goes from shape, to molecular composition, to atomic composition. These latter two abilities allow the shapeshifter to create both new compounds and perform transmutation, though they will be limited in this by exactly how the laws of nature work in their current shadow. The effort involved in doing so also depends on the degree of change (lead to gold is easier to perform than air to gold) and how Real the materials being transformed are (lead is harder to change to gold in Amber than it is in shadow).
This part of the power also allows the shapeshifter to change their clothes along with their bodies as they shift shape.
It is possible for a shapeshifter to use this ability to create technology from and within their own bodies (for example crossbows, or guns, or radios). However, this does require knowledge of the technology in question and unless the shapeshifter knows what works in a given shadow, either from experience or having a power which enables them to sense the properties of shadow (such as the Sensitivity to Shadow part of Advanced Pattern) then whether a given item of complex technology works there will depend very much on guesswork and luck.
- MOULD LIVING NON-SELF MATTER (5 points) - shapechange others, essentially. Requires a Psyche advantage to use against an unwilling target. Includes the ability to form Blood Creatures from another's blood (if the shapechanger has that part of Advanced Shapeshifting), and to heal the wounds, and with more effort the diseases, of others.
This part of advanced shapeshifting does allow the shapeshifter some limited ability to enhance others (in terms of Powers and Qualities), but only in a purely physical way. That is, the shapeshifter could make someone stronger by giving them more muscle mass, or fitter by enhancing their lung capacity, or harder to hurt by giving the physical armour or redistributed internal organs, but they could not give them the ability to change shape themselves, or the power to regenerate, or enhanced mental prowess, and so on.
- ABSORB/SHIFT/SHED MASS (5 points) - from the air (with a rush of wind), or from living or unliving matter. This also allows the shedding of useful artefacts and things (though only passive ones, such as weapons and armour). The total mass change one can sustain is dependant on the Endurance of the shapeshifter. This can be combined with the 'Mimic Intrinsic Powers' ability or the power of Empowerment to create enhanced weapons and items, and the 'Shapeshift Blood' ability to shed actual living creatures.
- SPIRIT/POWER MOULDING : Cost 15 points [25 points]
This is essentially the shapeshifter learning to shift the stuff of the soul.
- SHAPESHIFT AURA (5 points) - this includes shifting ones aura sufficiently to change their Trump imprint (either to make them un-Trumpable, or imitate the Trump of another; in the latter case the nearest and/or lowest Psyche gets the call though of course the shapeshifter will have removed the original person if they have any sense). It also allows one to shift the 'appearance' of their mind to avoid psychic recognition or to make ones mind appear more or less powerful than it really is. Close examination by someone with, for example, a high Psyche or Advanced Pattern may allow them to see through this shifting of the aura, however.
- This power also allows one to retain the ability to shapeshift in non-physical, purely mental realms where otherwise the shapeshifter would be fixed in the form of their own self-image.
- SHAPESHIFT PERSONA/PERSONALITY (5 points) - the construction/mimicking of another persona 'on top of' the shapeshifters own. Unlike Shapeshift Aura, which merely affects the outer 'shell' of the mind, this creates a genuine mind which controls the body with the real mind lurking in the 'background'. Depending on the strength of the new mind the real mind may or may not be able to re-take control without its consent. The Psyche of the shapeshifter determines how much study of the subject is required to mimic their mind - the higher the psyche of the shapeshifter relative to the subject, the shorter the time needed; this can range from minutes to days; the willingness of the subject is also an issue here, so it takes longer to mimic an unknowing or unwilling subject, especially if they have a higher Psyche than the shapeshifter.
- MIMIC INTRINSIC POWERS (5 points) - essentially the 'creatures of power' ability, but it also allows the mimicry of abilities which can only be found in inanimate objects (for example the power to rack spells). This power allows the shapeshifter to, for example, have intrinsic armour, spell rack capability etc., as long as they have studied something with the desired ability. The number of such abilities which can be incorporated into oneself at once depends on ones Psyche (at roughly the rate of 1 point of Power/Quality plus 1 per 5 points of Psyche); one can have more abilities than ones Psyche would normally allow by paying more points; one point spent gives one 1 extra point of Power or Quality; this can never more than double the number of points of Powers or Qualities one can manifest at the same time.
- Combining this power with the ability to shed mass (above) allows the creation of living things with useful abilities of most kinds from ones body. It also allows the enhancement of ones natural body armour and weapons into higher-level forms. If one has Shapeshift Blood too, this allows the creation of enhanced blood creatures as a similar manner to what can be done with Empowerment, but with the caveat that one must have studied the relevant creature. With the 'Absorb/Shed Mass' ability this can also be used to create empowered items.
- [DISLOCATE THE SOUL (10 points) - An optional part of the Spirit/Power Moulding path of Advanced Shapeshifting, this ability allows the shapeshifter to, at will, free their spirit from their body and move it around in space. This does not allow them the use of Pattern abilities, but if they have Mimic Intrinsic Powers, they can use the Seek In Shadow power to move through shadow. The down-side to this is that without care their body will die when they leave it, although, with appropriate use of other shapeshifting powers ones body can be modified so that this does not occur.
- In shadows where there is a spirit world, or which have an omnipresent non-physical god-type entity (or at least the potential for one) this ability allows the shapeshifter to move into the 'god-space', allowing them what is essentially omniscience and perhaps even omnipotence in that shadow (although their Psyche should definitely have an effect on precisely how much they can do).]
Back to my Amber Page.
Go to Pattern-Based Shapeshifting or Lycanthropy - two alternatives to this power.
Or Space-Shifting, Shapeshifting as an alternative to the Logrus.
Or go to the Pattern, Logrus, Alternatives to Logrus, Trump, or Magic Pages.