Shapeshifters

Summary: Shapeshifters are humanoids that have innate magic in regards to shapeshifting into a singular animal. Normally, they live in packs of which consist of the same kind of animal. However, this has changed in recent years, and mixed packs are becoming more common in the twenty-first century. Shifters are one with their animal form, there are no separated minds like in some myths. They share a common ancestor with humans and vampires, and are related to the two like dogs to wolves. Homo metamorphus is their official species name.

Diet: 80% of the shapeshifter diet includes raw flesh, be it of other humanoids, where they gain the most nutrition, or different animals. 20% of it includes vegetation, and too much of that can upset their digestive system. Shapeshifters are not shy when it comes to cannibalism. They often partake in dining on those of the same species if there is territory intrusion or battle. 

The digestive system of a shapeshifter remains relatively stable in both humanoid and animal form. This includes a shapeshifter of an avian variety, which is particularly odd when looking at them in a biological manner. This feature is sustained primarily by their natural magic. 

Transformation: A huge burst of mana is consumed and output in the form of magic when a shapeshifter transforms into their beast form. Shifters have learned to pair a basic spell with their transformation to keep their clothing from being destroyed every time they shift, which is essential in the modern era. Young shapeshifters don’t have such basic magic, however, which is why they’re rarely seen in public. 

There is no in-between form for shapeshifters, and the features they retain in humanoid form are entirely natural to them. This can vary based on shapeshifter and will be explained in depth in the “Notable features” section. 

Young shifters start activating their animal forms at around the age of five, where they are unstable and must be taught to control their primal instincts. They are prone to lashing out, tearing things up, running around crazily, and biting much more. Shifters stabilize their forms when puberty hits despite the wave of emotions during that time. They also master the clothing spell so that they can shift in public without worrying about returning to humanoid form in the nude. 

An important thing to note about shifters is that they retain their mass, and both forms are completely natural to them, though they prefer their humanoid forms for most things. If one spots a 150 pound rat, that generally means a shapeshifter is said rat. In addition to this, if a shifter’s animal counterpart is generally much bigger than humanoids, a bear for example, they will generally be larger than average in their humanoid forms to compensate in their animal forms. 

Notable Features: Regardless of the animal form a shifter has, they have the dentition of a predator in humanoid form. Their teeth are all sharpened, similar to that of a vampire though more canine-like. Unlike vampires and like humans, shapeshifters have rounded ears in humanoid form. They do have similar claws to a vampire, however. The claws of a shapeshifter are more commonly retractable than those of a vampire. 

In animal form, they retain their larynx, and therefore are capable of speech(aside from bird-shifters, of which don’t need a larynx to speak in form). Strangely, a shapeshifter opts out of speaking in that manner due to in many cases not having the proper lip configuration. Instead, they project their voice by magical means in a manner similar to telepathy, but out loud as if they are using their voice. 

Despite not having proper muscles to speak as well in animal form, shifters do retain similar facial muscles to humanoids, and therefore can make expressions. They use this sort of body language to communicate as well, much like other humanoids, but in their animal forms as well.

Immune System & Aging: Shifters have the same lifespan as humans, generally, however like humans can extend this via certain kinds of magic. The type of animal a shifter can turn into has little weight on either the immune system or aging, including being prone to diseases their animal is typically prone to.

The shifter has a hybrid immune system of a humanoid and of the animal they shift into, meaning they can be less prone to diseases on both ends of the spectrum. Due to shifters generally preferring their humanoid forms, they rarely catch diseases that their animals are prone to, such as rabies for mammals. 

Shifters have natural healing magic and can take quite a bit more damage than most humanoids, on par with vampires. While they have a high amount of stamina, however, their regenerative properties are slightly lesser than vampires. Shifters do not have a sickness to silver, which gives them an edge on vampires if they play their cards right. 

Magical Proficiency: Shifters have natural magic ingrained into their DNA for purpose of turning into their animal form. Magic that enhances these forms can be trained heavily into a shifter and mastered. Shifters generally have very high intelligence and can pick up basic spells much faster than either humans or vampires. However this curve slows down to a crawl behind humans as they delve into more advanced magic due to their natural magic overwhelming their ability to press forward. This is also seen in vampires, though the it’s to a lesser degree in shifters. 

Healing & Fleshcrafting magic tend to be the exception, as shifters can excel in these areas if they train well enough, on par with legendary human magic users in some cases. However, if used incorrectly, this can damage or even kill the shifters and requires a lot of energy (see the section on this type of magic for reasons why).

Common misconceptions: 

1. There is no separate brain for a shifter’s humanoid or animal form, nor any varying degree of thought. They retain their personality and intelligence regardless of form. 

2. ‘Werewolves’ are definitely not shapeshifters, however DNA from shifters was extracted to create lycans (see section).

3. A shifter’s beast form is not a familiar form(see section for more info), it is much more powerful and a natural part of them rather than just a spell. 

4. Shapeshifters cannot partially shift, nor can they retain beast-like features not seen all the time in their humanoid form as residual magic from their beast form (such as cat ears, for example.)

5. Shifters and vampires generally don’t get along due to territory disputes, however there isn’t some ancient war or reason as to why they fight beyond that. 

6. A shifter =/= a wendigo.