In the modern day, Shapechangers may arise among any human folk, though there is usually a family history of it afflicting someone in the line. Those families with shapechanging lineages usually have the same shape; if your cousin is a badger shifter, odds are good you’ll also be a badger shifter, not a robin or a woodchuck. Some families sweep their shapechanging kin under the rug, ostracize them, or even murder them when they’re found out. Other families quietly embrace the shapechanger, or pass them off to an “aunt” or “uncle” who knows more about it.
Physiology: As humans with the born ability to change to animal form, shapechangers are difficult to detect. In human form, shapechangers are humans; they may carry some features of their animal form, but little more than a normal human might… a rat shapechanger will tend to be rat-faced, with plump bodies and spindly limbs, but no moreso than another human might be. Likewise, in their animal form, they appear to be animals; notably smarter, perhaps, but not visually distinct. Detection as a shapechanger is far more often about observed changes, forgotten details, or extreme scrutiny.
Relations: While most races will look askance at a known shapechanger, far moreso than they would that same individual when believed to be human, gnomes and pixie-fairies are notably more favorably disposed to a shapechanger than they are a human… gnomes doubly so if the species of shapechanger is a burrowing mammal.
Religion: While some shapechangers worship deities, they may never become anointed to them; a cleric attempting to anoint a shapechanger will find that the spell simply cannot be begun; the words will not come out of their mouths. When subjected to a spell whose effects vary between the anointed and unanointed, shapechangers are always considered to the worst possible category.
Advice on playing a shapechanger: The gods don’t look kindly on your kind, but at least they’re not out to get you… unlike some of your fellow humans. While you have a great advantage, it also must be a secret, or you’ll find yourself getting the cold shoulder… if not the burning torch. But if you can get away from that? If you can find friends who will let you be, and make use of your unique skills? That’s to be treasured.
Shapechangers at a Glance
By Alternate Form (see table)
*Size Medium for HPs (i.e. 10 hp + Constitution + class roll)
*Size Medium for knock backs
*Native Language is regional human language prevalent in place of origin
*Change Form: Shapechangers may change shape once per day. That form is unique for each shapechanger; a wolf shapechanger always turns into the same wolf, and always turns back into the same human. This change takes three minutes to enact, and heals each wound the shapechanger currently suffers by one point, but requires a fatigue roll, as well. Each form has its own modifiers. Note that they may only change once per day; human to animal is one change, as is animal to human.
*Animal Language: Shapechangers can understand the language of their animal form when in human form, and speak it in their animal form. Likewise, they retain the ability to understand human language in animal form, though they usually cannot speak it.
*Immune to Lycanthropy. Though they may be damaged by lycanthropes, they are immune to the disease of lycanthropy, and never serve as carriers.
*Having two forms, shapechangers must learn to do many physical actions twice. Any skill with a Relevant Ability of Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, or Looks requires 1 additional BP per mastery die if it is to be available in both forms. If that price is not paid, physical aspects of the skill are only available in one, chosen, form (for example, a shapechanger may choose not to pay the premium for Blacksmithing, seeing as it would be difficult to work a hammer and tongs with paws). If the premium is not paid, then the skill is only available at the relevant attribute, or at 1/3rd the usual mastery level, whichever is higher. If mastery dice are granted for free as a class feature or as the result of a game or training event, those skills do not need to pay the premium.
*Shapechangers must separately master their natural attack forms; improvements to attack, defense, damage and speed are purchased at the base rate for their class.
*Shapechangers may not speak while in animal form. Likewise, changing form does not change equipment or armor, only the shapechanger’s own flesh.
*Shapechangers may not become anointed to a deity. Thus, they may not be clerics or any class which requires anointing, nor ever enjoy the benefits of anointing. If effects vary according to whom one is anointed to, then shapechangers are always the least favorable. Shapechanger barbarians are either "anointed" to shamanic spirits, or ignore that requirement for the class.
*Shapechangers are regarded as being cursed by the gods. As such, they are not well-regarded by others. Passing as human is possible for all Shapechangers, using the Disguise skill, and the difficulties for interaction are all one category easier (i.e. it is only an Average check to fool someone with whom you are interacting with at length, and Easy with casual contact). If discovered as a Shapechanger, they must reroll encounter reactions, with the appropriate modifier for the racial preference. Of course, if observed changing form and without a ready excuse, the proverbial jig is up, regardless of one’s disguise.
Shapechangers as seen by
Gnome Titans: Tolerate
Half-elves (as raising parent)
Preferential talent access
May purchase the following Talents at 50% BP cost
*Attack Bonus, Damage Bonus, Parry Bonus or Swiftblade (only for Animal Form Attacks)
*Illusion Resistant, Improved Awareness, Less Sleep, Physical Conditioning
*Barbarians normally must be anointed. Shapechanger barbarians are either not anointed, or anointed in a non-deific shamanic tradition.
Shapechanger Animal Forms:
Changing into an animal form is relatively time-consuming, requiring three minutes of concentration and shifting flesh. While shifting, almost anyone who can see the shapeshifter can quickly discern what is going on. When they have fully assumed their animal form, their Movement, Damage Reduction, and Damage change to that of the animal, and they gain some special abilities based on their form’s natural abilities and senses. Some sample forms, and their modifications, are listed below. Attribute modifications for the form apply to human form, as well.