About Shapeshifters: What it says on the tin. They're things that can turn into other things, and use that ability to survive and manipulate their way through life, because regular society sure isn't welcoming them. They gain forms by consuming parts of another creature's body - though some families have special methods/target parts, and some can mimic vaguely on smell/sight/sound - eating's the most effective way. They were quite the top predator in the day, but in confidence became stuck in painfully outdated traditions and rituals. Strong family bonds are rooted in the old days where they would produce families entirely by natural cloning. But with old major clans being very insular and overly proud, they were not open to changes that would save them from human industry and were quickly driven into hiding once technology came into play. Modern shifters who reside in cities are very different from the olden expectations, less familial and more taciturn about what they are, knowing the danger of hunters. Their ability is perfect for irresponsible fun and clawing to power in the modern world.
At birth, they're wormy brainlike parasites that can do nothing but try to devour and convert the body of the nearest living creature - once they have their first body, they can start to think and grow. As a rule, small bodies are easiest to convert and raise - so conveniently lots of baby shifters are start off with young kid hosts (provided their parents can hunt one down) and often revert to that form and let it age for stability. The shifter habit of nabbing kids is probably what really got humans on their case.
Transformation isn't infinitely flexible; healing serious injuries is tough, as is fully combating aging or sickness, but they do recover from trauma much faster than normal save for one kind of burn. When touched by Life Fountain aura, they feel a searing pain and lose the power to change the injured part.
Shifters can assume animal forms, and even non sentient organism forms but with the difference in mental state, changing back into something more complex is quite difficult. A plant is probably never becoming human again.
Shifters tend towards groups, supporting each other and ganging up on other families for resources or just to make a statement. Since they are often raised by and know nobody but their own clain, inter-family conflict and alliances tend to drag for centuries. It's considered really bad luck for a shifter to live alone.Anima (Vanagandr, Hrodvitnir, Nifelheim, Tirfing - not anymore)
flex ★☆☆☆ | dur ★★☆☆ | rep ★★★☆
Corpus (Van, Hro, Fen & friends)
- Until Corpus was formed, this old clan that used to be the only shifter family with any success in the human cities. Extremely strict hierarchy with very very old traditional family heads. Keeping the leaders alive/successful as long as possible was a goal. They took stragglers (there was nobody else clan-less city shifters could turn to), but only if they would join the high pressure workforce.
- The leaders were focused on making their numbers as large as possible and selling labor mostly in construction and mining, but the poor treatment of their working members eventually caused an uprising.
- The original members of Corpus were part of this family, but obliterated the elders and most of the followers when they split off.
flex ?☆☆☆ | dur ?☆☆☆ | rep ★★☆☆
Face Eaters (Randgris&Shutsuu)
- Most members of this one are NOT biologically related, so there's huge variation in ability. They were formed by abandoned blacksheep shifters or shrinking families banding together in the city. They're hard to pin down, and only the core members are a coherent group. More of a social network than a real "Family
- Living in a new environment without elders, they are more likely to take advantage of technology/communication/education in ways their countryside cohorts won't. Many will gun for high power (human) occupations where they can support their family members.
According to their leader, they want to clear the way for shifters to live/hunt openly in major cities. But until that happens, they seem to be fine living alongside humans, blending in and doing what it takes to create stability.
- Old traditions say shifters should care for each other over any human prey, but these guys will attack fellow shifter families and defend humans if seen as useful to their cause.
flex ★★★☆ | dur ★★★☆ | rep ★★★★
All clones, super traditional as even old families don't simply clone themselves anymore. They are born+grow in pseudo human form, don't need a host body when born. Straight brown hair and yellow eyes. They appoint one queen by some mutual nonviolent agreement, all the pure clones come from her until she becomes old.
- Their body shapes are somewhat similar, they tend to not be large but are very agile and flexible. They seems strong because they can sprout extra limbs and double up muscles.
- They hunt entire towns by posing as visitors. Very good at both hiding and defending themselves, they don't run and if confronted will just fight it out. The disguise is just a game it seems. Not sure if this is a good choice going forward; may not work on bigger settlements.
- They won a lot of ancient territory wars and basically drove other shifters out a certain mountain range. A longtime reputation for being erratic neighbors and nasty competition.
- They mostly use knives. Everyone gets a mask, wearing isn't strict but you should have it on hand. The mask seems to be to help the kids distinguish between samey looking adults.
- They only eat/hoard heads, hence the goofy name, and burn the rest. Their form retention is excellent, they can remember multiple forms accurately for a long time, especially faces.
flex ★☆☆☆ | dur ★☆☆☆ | rep ★☆☆☆
- Really unreliable, flimsy transformations, likely to have patches of incomplete color/skin/muscle that they cover in fake skin or collected bones. The really weak ones need to eat constantly to get a fresh form. They try to find weak targets, sometimes resorting to animals. Human conversions often fail.
- Cruddy form-keeping results in frequent memory degradation
- Mostly hidden in the forests, they send a small group to the city once but it was scattered and mostly wiped out. Sao was probably one of them. However he passed quite easily as a normal person because his appearance seems totally stable, without hunting much (or at all). Also masks were popular... past that not much indication of being a shifter.
- (even he's not sure if he's a shifter who's lucky to be stable, a shifter who lost memory, failed conversion or kid who pretended to be a shifter so long he forgot...)
flex ★★★★ | dur ★☆☆☆ | rep ★☆☆☆
- Very sensitive transformation ability. They don't need to eat to steal form, can just rely on touch, smell, and sight. However their forms are really unstable as a result - they can accidentally shift without realizing it. Inconsistent training related to...
- Really low (live) replacement rate, always found abandoned or with deceased parent, no family structure at all. Most specialty families pass down technique/records but there's nothing here. So there's no real method to learning how to control their strange conditions. Actually nobody's really sure who's part of this family other than Freenet and suspected, scattered ancestors.
About Life Fountains: Essentially immortal, constantly regenerating creatures who have long loitered in their mountain enclaves. They are powerful, mostly immutable, but generally slow and peaceful - barring a few extreme deviants who are quietly sent away. Internally and even among exiles, there isn't real conflict. Needing little of health and safety standards, they tend to be overindulgent, looking irrationally calm and oblivious to danger, and frequently ignorant of social niceties that would be based on human safety and satisfaction.
Life Fountains produce aura, a substance of varying form per LF - common forms are faint light, foam or steam issuing from skin. Control, range and strength of aura vary depending on the Life Fountain but it is always the basis of their trademark super healing. Aside from preserving the LF it has a rejuvenating effect on the natural world and most living creatures - except shapeshifters, who are permanently burned by it. The aura is produced throughout the body, so when parts are removed, they can all survive for a while. If left sitting without an organic well to absorb it, pure aura eventually dissipates without waste.
LFs resemble humans, and age at an expected pace until adulthood where they sort of linger. They can technically live through all sorts of diseases and injuries but their regeneration can become imbalanced with natural decay and create unpleasant internal/external tumorous growths. Since the health issues can't take them down, most Life Fountains only pass on by their own willpower, when life is no longer enjoyable. Once they willingly enter brain death and go to sleep for good, their aberrant growths overtake them and they merge with whatever natural forms are nearby; most of the hills around their villages are actually ancient sleepings LFs.
Normal Life Fountains are pretty lackadaisical, not much to worry about, just living as long as they want as slow as they want. But when an exception happens, their ordinarily life-giving power can get converted into something ugly. When it becomes a risk to their village, this exception will be exiled - either to just wander, or more recently to human cities.
Trae (black smoke)
control ★★☆☆ | selfheal ★★★★ | outheal ★★☆☆ | dmg ★★★☆
Exudes a thick black smoke that seals his body, preventing even dismemberment; ie he heals himself really well. When used on others it can heal extreme injuries, but with some side effects from prolonged use: drains color, then energy, then finally the mind. A "saturated" body is more or less his loosely controlled zombie, but still prone to actual death. Once that happens, he can't bring them back to life. In humidity the smoke can goop up and congest his airways, it's never fatal but it looks like respiratory issues.
Misaki (all fire)
control ★★☆☆ | selfheal ★★☆☆ | outheal ☆☆☆☆ | dmg ★★★★
It's really bright, colorful fire. Easily restrained to a point of pressure where it can just be puffed into the air as a fireball, can shoot from limbs/skin with exertion. Output easily increased, with potential infinite generation whenever she wants it's a good hunting aura once the shape can be controlled (actually it's the same as a famous hunter... but that hunter was supposedly defeated by Van?) Self healing is average, but she is not harmed by the fire itself. It can probably heal others but the side effect of setting fire on contact makes it totally pointless in that regard.
Rai (blue hands)
control ★★★☆ | selfheal ★★☆☆ | outheal ★☆☆☆ | dmg ★☆☆☆
Low power, very short range- hands only. Can have minor increase in power for targeted healing or to burn a little more than usual is possible, but it's never super potent. The natural effect is so light shifters might not notice they are burned until they look for the sunburn-like mark. He can dim it a lot, but never fully stop the light. Covering hands for a long time makes the LF growths sprout over and they have to be surgically removed.
Cadmus (petal skin)
control ★★★☆ | selfheal ★★☆☆ | outheal ★★☆☆ | dmg ★☆☆☆
Weak but rare dry solid form, it lasts for a pretty long time even when separated from him so it can be packaged up for medical uses. It falls like reddish pieces of peeling skin, but the joke is it looks like flower petals when you don't know the origin. Smells like nothing though.
Cilix (oil well)
control ★☆☆☆ | selfheal ★★★☆ | outheal ☆☆☆☆ | dmg ★★★★
Super flammable tanker. Extremities such as ear tips, fingers, seep black oil that require some willpower to fully stop. It has no useful healing effect by itself (useful fuel though, very little waste fumes). His self healing factor was quite high because he's frequently on fire... but he doesn't heal fast enough to recover from an explosion...
Nereid (foam and bubble)
control ★★☆☆ | selfheal ★★★★ | outheal ★★★☆ | dmg ★★☆☆
A fairly common shape of aura but way more severe than it should be. Full of energy and constantly bubbling or regrowing parts that need to be cut off before they get out of control, they seem to thrash will a will of their own if left too long. The real aura form is bubbles, but there is so much they pack together into a solid. Once removed, the tentacles just dissolve.
About Humans: Or human equivalents. Why do they have animal ears? Why does magic exist but ghosts are still a mystery? well in this flawlessly produced fantasy world there's obviously an explaination and that is
The Central Army: The national military, no particular outstanding deeds but the biggest one around and credited with the relative peace. A while back, they launched a massive recruiment compaign but also became secretive about what they were spending resources on, and the secrecy at the worst of times incited the Rebel Army. Back to the good times now, they're just flat generic, with little to do after 4e were defeated and the major shifters went into hiding. Their trademark color is beige.
The Revolutionary Army: aka the Four Emperors Army, led by a quartet of Central Army rebels. They defected at a time when secret Central institutions were being build around the continent, and the lack of transparency caused them some personal offense. With hyper aggression they drove Central control out of many parts, but were eventually defeated when it appears the leaders lost interest and direction. The "Emperors" title is based on the leaders' nicknames from when they were served the Central Army.
Wishfort Mansion: A supposed safe haven for kids of unknown origin, single house in an idyllic meadow surrounded by forests full of shifters and who knows what else. There were many serious, black-garbed "tutors" who cared for the kids and apparently more than a match for their surrounding threats - keeping stuff out, keeping others in. Many normal children graduated and continued to schools outside, but some special pupils (the most well behaved, oddly enough) were put to some other use never made it out, at least in a form anyone would recognize. // Kuvirea, Saohme, Catoble, Vontarc, Tohakken (graduates), Millamant (ex tutor)
Chimera Corporation: A successful security company that has secretly been acquired by Corpus shifters to covertly fund research against Life Fountains, and provide shelter and jobs to stray shifters who come to the city. Despite these shady side projects (or maybe thanks to it) the "real" business is flourishing, so nobody's looked too closely into their affairs.
also thinking about: National University Network, RRI project, Central Lab & volunteers, Metro Police, Central Hospital, E34234 chemical plant, Wishfort Forge, Harmony Electric, unnamed factory town (Trae), unnamed shadow country (Mist)
Four Emperors army
One for each of their animals - a dragon, turtle (shell with snakes), a bird and a tiger. Usually ends up as a patch on their jackets or the clothing of their followers, though not often since the army fell. The Tiger and Dragon are often simplified to S shapes on an oval/diamond with three dots...
A 3 tomoe logo of a big power company. The middle looks a bit like a turbine propeller. Their company clothing is mostly dark gray or green, so the gold button stands out. Cilix was usually seen wearing jumpsuits with these. He probably died in one too.
The regional security company uses a goat head, possibly based on Korn, a favored employee for a while. They employ a snake kid and cat creatures too, but wanted the herbivore head as a mascot. The manager Hro is very into web trends. Right now it sports a gradient and chrome texture.
It's just a small shield with some lines on it. The silver ones are typical among members, but the bronze ones are worn by trainees, temps and juniors - Rai had one before he was a full time hire.
Van knew a lot of cops and liked the police logo, so his shifter family crest looks like an upside down version. It's modeled after a rib cage, his signature image. The rest of the family also have corresponding body parts because they're kind of cheezy, but they unite under his emblem. It mostly appears on Van's quad design, on his harness.