Amber: Rise Up
This is the power to manipulate the tissue of your own body. There are certain inherent limitations upon this. For example, you may not add to or subtract from your total body mass using shape shift.
Shape Shifting comes with built-in dangers. While the wielders of Pattern or Logrus run the risk of destroying the universe, Shape Shifters face the day-to-day challenge of being able to destroy themselves. Since the power involves self-change, there is always the danger of changing to a state where a character can’t change back.
There are a lot of nasty things that can happen to player characters with shape shifting. Most Shape Shifting is done at a character’s leisure, carefully and without difficulty. However, under time pressure, or when the character has been over-doing it, things can get more difficult.
Time Needed for Shape Shifting. Changing a single feature, like toughening a character’s skin into armor, or changing fingernails into claws, is fairly quick, taking only ten or fifteen seconds. The complete transition to a familiar form, one that the character knows well and uses regularly, can be attained in just a couple of minutes. The fastest complete change is when a character goes “home”, back to one of their natural forms, and fastest of all if the character returns to Human form.
All of which assumes a character being in good shape, rested, well-fed, and uninjured. Lacking any one of these conditions, the character can take twice as long to perform the change. If in bad condition, starved, or exhausted, then Shape Shifting becomes arduous and time consuming and may become impossible altogether.
Endurance Limitations. The process of Shape Shifting is enormously draining. Each cell of the character’s body is stressed, fatigued and drained of energy. Even one ordinary Shape Shifting will exhaust a character of Human Rank Endurance. Chaos Rank Endurance characters can Shape Shift a couple of times a day without great strain. Characters with Amber or better rank Endurance can Shape Shift at will, needing only adequate nourishment (which can be a heck of a lot for an Amberite!)
Learning New Forms. Shape Shifters can learn just about any new forms, given enough time and practice. For example, the first time a character attempts to imitate someone else, they’ll need some kind of reference to the features they want to imitate, and a mirror to check the results. However, given a few days of dedicated practice, a Shape Shifter will have learned the form and will be able to take it on again with only a short investment of time. The change to one of these practiced forms isn’t as quick as a change to a natural form, but most shape shifters can change to a well-known form in just a few minutes.
Attribute Tips for Shape Shifting. Psyche is important for maintaining your original personality in Shape Shifting. However, even more important is Endurance.
Shape Shifting Gone Wrong
Eventually, if players push their shape shifting, they’ll go over the line into some kind of personal horror story. The mistakes are almost never life-threatening, but they are agony for players. Still, getting burned by shape shifting is another great way to build up the player character’s personality through adversity.
Losing Personality in Shape Shift. One of the most common problems facing a Shape Shifter is losing their own personality, their own sense of self. Usually this is a result of the character attempting to imitate another character, or trying to take on the form of some psychically powerful entity. When this happens a player may lose control of the character. In the best of cases, the player character’s persona returns to control whenever the body goes unconscious. However, it is possible that the “foreign” personality can take over for an extended period of time.
Losing the Power to Shape Shift. This is a particularly dangerous and debilitating problem that can take one of two forms.
Loss of Shape Shift Skill. The character’s mind can lose the ability to control the Shape Shifting mechanism of the body. The character will then have to relearn the Shape Shifting through trial and error, a process which will probably take a couple of weeks.
Loss of Shape Shift Power. A more serious condition, the body’s cells lose their special Shape Shifting property. The body becomes immutable and unchanging. Eventually, as normal healing and regeneration take place, the cells will recover.
Loss of Both Skill and Power. The body’s cells will have to completely recover before the character can start exercising the skill of Shape Shifting again.
Involuntary Shape Shifting. In some cases the player may end up conditioning their character’s body into reacting in certain ways automatically. Most of the time this is good. For example, if a character falls from a great height, consciously thinking about making a change isn’t nearly as fast as letting the body do the change automatically.
Letting go of your body’s natural facility also means surrendering control of what form it may eventually take. That means that your brain may also change, along with the body. The new form may have urges, desires, or fears that are unnatural to your normal personality, but which you will be helpless to resist. In the worst case, you may lose your personality altogether, regaining consciousness hours, or even years after the Automatic Shape Shift.
Infection with Primal Chaos. Player characters who push their Shape Shifting too far, inflicting incredible stress on their body, run the risk of their shape shifting going berserk. Every living thing must have a bit of Primal Chaos as part of their makeup. Shape Shifters are those who can control the element of chaos that dwells within every living thing. Push it too far, however, and a shape shifter can wind up with Primal Chaos Cancer, which, if unchecked, can become a Total Primal Chaos infection, where each cell is its own tiny Shape Shifter…
Basic Shape Shifting
SHAPE SHIFT NATURAL FORMS 10 : Each character has three “natural” forms which will be much easier to shift into than others. One of them is more difficult to master- the Avatar Form, see below. The other two are the easiest things for a shape shifter to learn and to use.
Human Form. The primary form for any player character will be human. In this form the character has no benefits or drawbacks. While in human form, Lords of Chaos will be much more resistant to Pattern.
Chaos Form. The first form is designed for combat, and generally is demonic, with scales, fangs, claws, and other natural hardware. Even characters from Amber will have a Chaos form, although it’s possible that they may not discover it for many years.
Often called the demonic form, this is simply because of the character’s appearance. Demon forms have the same basic personalities as human. Chaos dwellers recognize that this form is best for dealing with a wide range of environments, any of which can show up at any time in the Courts of Chaos. The character is naturally armored in this state and equipped with natural weapons like talons, fangs, horns, and even spine-tipped tails. In other words, Chaos form is the Shape Shifting equivalent of putting on a suit of armor and wielding a wide range of weapons. While the form is well equipped for combat, there are no Attribute advantages of any kind.
AUTOMATIC SHAPE SHIFT 5 [Requires Shape Shift Natural Forms] : Responding to the sometimes rapid changes of environment in Chaos means developing the ability to “let go” and allowing the body to Shape Shift automatically in response to dangers or changes in the area. This also includes the ability to Shape Shift defensively, in response to various kinds of attacks, including those of Logrus, Magic, Pattern, and Trump.
While dangerous, there are times when there is no choice but to rely on an automatic shift. When a character is falling, drowning, strangling, being poisoned, bleeding to death, there’s just no time to do a careful, well thought out Shape Shift. In these cases you just take your foot off the brake and hope for the best.
What happens is that the unconscious part of the brain takes over, linking directly into the body’s Shape Shifting function, and changing to the form best suited for surviving the current threat. The character can try to resist the Automatic Shape Shift, and success if usually determined by the character’s Psyche. This becomes very difficult if the body has been conditioned by a lot of previous use, so there’s no time left for the character to try to resist.
SHAPE SHIFT WOUNDS 5 [Requires Shape Shift Natural Forms] : Once wounded, you don’t just heal quickly, you shape shift the body to repair itself. Open wounds can be closed quickly, even during combat. Repairing flesh, knitting bones, and worst of all, regrowing nerves, takes more time. Shape Shifting drastically increases healing time, but at a cost of the body’s energy. If you’ve actually lost something, a part of your body, like an eye, or an arm, then you have to go through the long, slow process of regeneration controlled by your Endurance attribute. In the meantime, that feature will be missing, no matter what shape you take.
SHAPE BODY PARTS 5 [Requires Automatic Shape Shift and Shape Shift Wounds] : The changes you make depend on the parts of the body. It’s easier to manipulate soft tissue, then cartilage, then bone. Most difficult things to change are nerves. Holding a change requires full concentration, as your body always prefers one of its familiar forms.
SHAPE SHIFT ANIMAL FORMS 5 [Requires Shape Body Parts] : Visualizing the persona of an animal allows you to take that animal’s form. This works best if you have first made a Psychic contact with one of the animals. Once the form is “learned” the character can accurately copy it at any time. You can Shape Shift claws, teeth, hooves and horns, and armor like scales or plate. You can Shape Shift to a bird, or a bat, capable of flight, but will be able to fly only if your character has sufficient Strength. After all, unless your character is really small, you’re trying to fly with a pretty hefty load.
While it is pretty easy to change into animal forms, it can be difficult to learn to use their various abilities. The first time in bird form, for example, the character will know nothing at all about flying, and will have quite a difficult time of it.
PRIMAL FORM 0 [Requires Shape Body Parts] : The most dangerous, yet most durable form is that of the Primal Form. When a character takes this state they become a being totally wired in to their Shape Shifting ability, so that they instantly react and change to accommodate anything threatening in their environment. Each character’s Primal Form is different, a reflection of their deepest hopes, fears and drives. Some characters will become vicious and dangerous predators, attacking madly any vulnerable living thing. Others will be more flight oriented, fleeing from any and all possible threats. Any Primal Form can instantly adapt to changes in atmosphere, environment, temperature, or gravity. Adapting to breathing underwater or in any liquid medium is automatic.
NOTE: No character is ever “conscious” while in Primal Form. The danger is that a Primal Form isn’t really intelligent. The character’s personality, while it may survive in some dormant form, is no longer in control of the character’s body. For this reason a Primal Form is usually a measure of last resort.
Waking from Primal Form. Another problem is that Primal Forms may never sleep or rest. Driven by their pure urge for survival, they may never let down their guard long enough for the player character’s personality to resume control. It’s possible that the only way out is for the character’s friends to capture the Primal Form and force it to change. Or the character may wake up in some incredibly distant Shadow, the only place where the Primal Form felt “safe” enough to nap. Another possibility is that the character’s personality will only become conscious when the Primal Form is so threatened or trapped that it can’t get out with just raw fury and Shape Shifting.
SHAPE FACIAL FEATURES 5 [Requires Shape Body Parts] : With a massive effort, and a mirror for reference, you can change your facial features, even to the extent of disguising yourself, or imitating someone else. However, this requires constant concentration. When concentrating on something else, like a Trump battle, you’ll automatically start shifting back to your normal face.
AVATAR FORM 0 [Requires Shape Shift Animal Form and Primal Form] : This is the final “natural” form. The Avatar Form differs depending on whether the character is from Amber or the Courts of Chaos. If from Amber, the Avatar form will be some animal, usually of a size and weight comparable to the player character. Chaos dwellers have Avatar forms that are much more dramatic, causing the body to turn into living fire, stone, air, or water. Elemental Avatar forms are suited for their particular environments, common near the Courts of Chaos, but are difficult to maintain in shadows based on Amber’s Pattern.
Advanced Shape Shifting
SHAPE SHIFT AURA 5 [Requires Avatar Form] : This shifts the mind’s mental structure so it takes on a completely different Psychic auta. Note that it doesn’t change the ability, the Psyche, or anything else. It just changes the appearance of the mind, so that a Psychic touch will not detect the difference. Some of the possible auras include that of a plant or animal, the lesser Psyche of a normal human, or the imitation of any person’s Psyche known to your character.
SHAPE SHIFT FEATURES 5 [Requires all Basic Shape Shifting] : You can only accurately substitute yourself for another person if you’ve had close contact and the opportunity to practice. Partial shifting of features, like moving your facial proportions around so that you are no longer physically recognizable, is easy. However, doing this analytically, for example, trying to turn your hair red by picturing the color you want, doesn’t work. Instead, you should try imagining some other red-headed character, someone you know well, and concentrate on their hair, and then imitate that person. Substituting yourself for someone larger than you means you’ll look like a skinny version of them. Changing into someone of a smaller form means looking like a fatter version of that character. However, it only takes about a week to fully adjust, losing or gaining weight as necessary, and to become an acceptable imitation.
SHAPE SHIFT INTERNAL STRUCTURES 5 [Requires Shape Shift Features] : Your character can move around, change, duplicate, and augment the body’s internal organs. Aside from the obvious benefits of generating two hearts, or a sub-brain, you can use this ability to regenerate lost body parts. Regeneration of lost parts take about a week of total concentration, using Shape Internal Structures.
SHAPE SHIFT PERSONA 5 [Requires Shape Shift Aura and Shape Internal Structures] : Part of the problem with trying to imitate someone else, regardless of whether you look, sound, smell, and feel like them, is that you still give yourself away by not acting like them. Shape Shift Persona lets you change your personality so even slight, subtle mannerisms can be imitated.
Danger of Shape Shift Persona. If you attempt to Shape Shift into the personality of a particularly powerful mind, you run the risk of it overwhelming you. In essence, you actually become that person, and may totally lose control over your character. Usually this ends with sleep or unconsciousness, when your own natural Persona will come back into existence.
The Game Master can also modify the way things are presented to your character when you have Shifted your Persona. A gesture that you might consider friendly your new persona may see as threatening, for instance. The tenor of entire scenes may change, interpreted by your new personality.
SHAPE SHIFT BLOOD 5 [Requires Shape Shift Internal Structures] : The blood of an Advanced Shape Shifter has very special properties. Cut yourself, bleed out a few drops, and you can Shape the blood into a creature of your desire. This creature will have a measure of your own powers. So, for instance, if you have the Blood of Amber, your blood creature will have a bit of power over Pattern as well.
SHAPE SHIFT TO ANIMAL ABILITIES 5 [Requires Shape Shift Internal Structures] : Instead of having to shift into animal form to gain the animal’s ability, you can simply change your own form to add the ability. For example, you can have your character sprout wings like a bird or a bat, grow gills, or develop claws or armored scales.
*SHAPE SHIFT OTHERS 0 [Requires Shape Shift Aura and Shape Shift Blood] : Once a psychic contact has been made, it’s possible for an Advanced Shape Shifter to impose Shape Shifting on someone else. If the subject resists, this is possible only after the Shape Shifter has completely dominated the other’s mind with Psyche. On the other hand, if the subject of the Shape Shift is willing, the process can be quick and simple.
SHAPE SHIFT TO CREATURES OF POWER 0 [Requires Shape Shift to Animal Abilities] : Since some creatures have innate powers, it’s now possible to take their form and use those powers. Certain shapes seem very interesting, such as the demon shapes and dragon shapes that promise tremendous power. Use the Item Creation section as a guide for the possibilities.