"No! I swear it to the Seven! Tattooed face to feet and missing three fingers! He stabbed the Lord and turned into a bird! I know what I saw! I know what I saw!"- Jamur Kafyl, former guard of Lord Shavis of Rynmere, executed for assassinating his Lord.
Long have the races of man jealously regarded the natural kingdom. Dominance was not enough, for who truly watches the flight of birds and does not wish to join them? Not all races share the innate talent for shapeshifting the Yludih possess and in that absence, a magic grew. Becomers would argue their craft exceeds that of the Yludih in accuracy and although an unproven boast, Becoming is certainly far more dangerous.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Totems
- 3 Reference Guide
- 4 Dangers and Overstepping
- 5 Initiation
- 6 Suggested Mutations
- 7 PROTEAN
- 8 NOVICE
- 9 COMPETENT
- 10 EXPERT
- 11 MASTER
- 12 LEGENDARY
Transmogrification, as it is known by the Seekers, or Becoming, as it is known by its progenitors, is a magic that uses totems to guide the transformation of one being into another. It is not simply the mimicry of another life form, it is the exact duplication. Every blemish, flaw, and strength of the source that the totem is made from will be present in a pure Becoming Transformation.
Totems, then, are the guide by which a transformation takes place. Without a guide, Becoming is useless. Without something to Become, there is no magic. Although this restriction exists, Becomers count themselves lucky they do not have to arduously study the feathers of birds or musculature of a jungle cat in order to slip into their body. While study and knowledge is emphasized in this magic, it is a knowledge born of first hand experience rather than dusty study. You will find no Becomer cloistered away in a library, but rather galloping beneath the stars as a stallion to test its endurance, the balance of its gait.
Unlike some magics which eventually require a reversion to one's original shape, Becoming holds no such limitation. Becoming was a name chosen aptly, one Becomes, they do not pretend. If you decide to become a mer, you will forever be one until motivated to transform again. Some abandon their original form for the excitement of others, but most, especially beginner mages will cling to their old identities like a favored cloak...one that grows far less captivating with age.
Totems are the means by which Becoming is possible. By utilizing what Becomers call "The Three Sovereign Substances" a wizard creates items which act as blueprints for the shape the mage wishes to take. The Three Sovereign Substances are Bone, Blood, and Hair. Although defined as 'hair', that definition is mutable. The third substance could also be scales or skin as necessary to the shape. This material must be harvested from the creature the wizard wishes to Become. If this material cannot be gathered, the creature cannot be transformed into. The shape of a totem is unimportant. Becomers often consider their signature to be in the way they build their totems. Some make art of it while others stress only efficiency. There is no correct way to create a totem, so long as it primarily incorporates the three sovereign substances. When inducted, the first totem created is the users own. It emphasizes the most important rule of the magic. One does not Become without sacrifice. Ordinarily a finger or toe is chosen as the bone component of the first totem, and some mages who understand the danger of losing a totem may create multiple totems of themselves and hide them.
Totems are not difficult to create, but a Becomer may only have a limited number of totems dedicated to them at any time. Totem creation involves channeling Ether through the totem to awaken its potential. Dedication is simple, involving the Becomer meditating with the totem before attempting its use. Dedicating a totem is not something that can be done on the fly, but rather over the course of a trial. While a totem is more resilient than an ordinary item constructed of blood, hair, and bone, it is not invincible. Totems fall apart with age or when subjected to harsh conditions. Some have thought simply using blood as a bonding agent to set the hair on a bone was enough, only to find that in a heavy rain or just in the space of a season, the totem loses its power. Some creatures are not usually appropriate for totem creation such as insects or especially tiny creatures. Yludih and Tunawa likewise cannot be used to create totems. Just as they can never learn Becoming, so can a mage never Become them. In addition, Grafted creatures are also restricted. While a Becomer can augment their true body and have those changes reflected whenever they take their totem shape, Graft carries between all forms, being a magic on its own. This can limit the shapes one can take and it is not often a Becomer will choose Graft as a complimentary discipline. Hone, which requires the intimate knowledge of a single body rather than spread between several, is only applicable to the Becomer’s original form, the form they learned Hone in.
A totem ages, just as the Becomer does. Connected to their soul, as it continues to accrue age so does the tools by which they mark their magic. Becomers often need to replace totems if they live long enough to see those shapes reach old age and have sometimes taken so long between forms that when they go to access their totem again, they find the creature they would have taken the form of has perished, and they must find another. Time is not denied a Becomer. Although they can wear the shapes of any age, all shapes they wear eventually age.
These are all techniques that can be learned with Knowledge at the level they are available.
A technique one learns as a beginner that sets the stage for Borrowing. Blending is simply using two totems from the same animal family to 'blend' features and Become a shape that is neither one nor the other, but a composite of both. Many Becomers use this ability to steal the shapes of the dead and mix it with their own to create entirely new identities. In terms of totem count, so long as the species is the same, two totems count as one for the purpose of totemic requirements. Blending can be used between different species of animal and even those closely related. A dog’s features could be combined with a wolf. When this ability is gained, a Becomer also becomes subtly aware of the language animals use to communicate with each other. While not a perfect translation, a Becomer can usually get the general meaning behind any animal behavior they have the totem of…without prior knowledge of behavioral conventions.
A Novice technique that is a shadow of what eventually becomes Evolve, Echo borrows senses and minor special abilities from a totem and overlays them with your natural form. The changes are always subtle and temporary, such as seeing in the dark, leaping with the grace of a gazelle, or tuning into the echolocation of a bat. One trait may be echoed at novice, with two at competence. At expertise, three traits and four at Mastery and Legendary. Although these traits are fairly easy to manifest, costing little ether
A Competent technique, the Becomer transforms and assimilates totems within his transformation. Depending on the shape, carrying totems and items can become difficult if not impossible for a Becomer. Beginning at competence, the Becomer may choose to incorporate totems in their transformation. At least one totem at competent, two at expertise, and three at mastery and legendary. Many Becomers choose to hide their personal totems this way, considering it the safest. At expertise, basic clothing may be assimilated between forms as well, provided they are made of an organic material. At mastery, one can even smuggle small weapons between transformations provided they are completely wrapped with an organic material like leather.
Assimilated items lay an imprint on the form one had before. So long as the totem the items were assimilated into remains undamaged, these items can be recovered, returned to hand the moment the transformation occurs.
Rather than a totem, a Becomer can choose to Assimilate a different item instead, as stipulated. They can choose a full set of clothes instead of a totem (provided nothing is carried in any pockets or hidden in any folds, unless that item counts for another assimilated item) or a weapon instead of a totem. The amount of Assimilated items cannot exceed their limitation. Assimilation must be renewed each time a shape is chosen and the Assimilated items can only be recovered when one returns to the shape that had them in the first place. If the totem with the assimilated items imprinted is destroyed, so additionally are the items.
An ability gained in competence, Unleash is a sudden explosive transformation that takes place in the space of a few moments. This transformation is always painful and wild. Due to the speed of the change, no other Borrowing or form altering techniques can be used when one Unleashes. Combining Chrysalis with Unleashing almost always invites overstepping, depending on the severity of the injuries.
Unleashing can be done once at Competence without inviting overstepping, and up to three times at mastery and legendary. Unleashing is often an ability used of urgency, or as a surprise in a sudden battle. Although it can be used up to three times at mastery without inviting overstepping, it is always risky and rarely the only techniques used in such a situation.
An expert technique whereby by taking another shape also renews the body transforming. This can be incredibly taxing depending on the damage received, but a Becomer could transform into a shape free of injury, even it is refreshing the shape they currently hold. This is often an ability one uses sparingly if possible, as the repair may be taxing enough to throw the Becomer into Overstepping. It is recommended this ability not be used in combat, but instead when one can relax safely and heal their wounds without expending additional ether.
This does not affect their stamina or need to eat and sleep. Although they can refresh any major damage done to a totemic form, basic necessities and the need to rest are universal to all forms.
Borrow is the technique that evolves from Blending. Using one totem as a 'base' an expert Becomer can 'borrow' traits from other totems in their possession in order to Become a gestalt of the forms. The Base determines the form taken and the supplements determine what traits are woven into the new shape. Ones ability to borrow is determined by their skill but through this technique, a Becomer could transform into a beast unlike which Idalos has ever seen before. A Mage can add two new 'borrowed' traits when this ability is acquired. They gain two additional at Mastery. It is possible to push past this limit, but at the risk of Overstepping. This process can be exhausting and always increases the time of transformation depending on the complexity of the borrowed traits.
Adaption can only be gained in mastery. Adapt breaks the rule of the 'all or nothing' aspect of Becoming. Adaption works like Borrowing but can be induced after a form has been taken. It's a far less strenuous technique as it does not require a full body transformation and was developed for combat and utility. These transformations are always just as fast as unleashing transformations and only affect the totem shape for as long as the Becomer is in it. These transformations disappear when the mage takes the shape again. Adapted traits are the same as borrowed traits, save for the fact they can be added after a transformation rather than requiring an entire new one. One can only have as many adapted traits as they have Borrowed traits.
Totems are more than just shapes, they’re repositories for the soul of the Becomer to fill. In a way, each totem is alive. They take a shard of the Becomer’s own personality and become something different than they were. Totem Guardian is the next step of that ability, allowing the Becomer to invest ether into a totem and have it resume the shape of the creature it was made from. This Totem Guardian is an extension of the Becomer, but not a thrall like Necromancy. Instead, these totems given form are variants of the Becomer, although filtered through that creature’s perception. They are fiercely loyal and generally obey any command a Becomer imparts. They avoid self destruction and many Becomers begin to associate them as their own friends and family. At mastery, one Totem Guardian can be manifested and at Legendary up to two. More can be pushed, but it will always invite overstepping.
If the totem guardian is killed, the totem will also be destroyed. If a totem guardian is badly injured, it may take some time before the Becomer is able to resume their shape as the ether repairs itself in the totem. A Totem guardian can be manifested for at least three breaks a trial without issue…but to push it or combine with other techniques would be dangerous. No other techniques can be used on a totem guardian.
A dangerous technique for only a legendary caster, Hive allows the Becomer to split their body into multiple organisms based on their totem. For small creatures, a swarm of them could feasibly be released while the larger forms drastically limit the amount that a mage could split themselves into. The mage shares a hive mind consciousness with all parts of himself but finds it much more difficult to transform if large pieces of himself are destroyed while split. This technique can be used all at once or little by little, transforming ones arm into a snake to spy on a rival, for instance, is a perfectly acceptable use of this ability. Often conservation of mass is maintained in these transformations, but a Becomer has been known to stretch that capability by taking a larger shape and then utilizing Hive…although such arrogance has always been costly.
A Legendary Becomer Awakens into a Protean, detailed below
Dangers and Overstepping
Extreme nausea, migraines, tremors, Atavistic Tendencies, Feral Resistance, and weakness in the body.
Temporary paralyses, weakened immune system, Atavistic confusion (Short to medium), Totem corruption, Totem Restriction, Babel tongue
Atavistic confusion (long), Temporary loss of Becoming magic, Body flux (Uncontrolled half transformations), Destruction of totems currently carried by a Becomer, Totem Rebellion, or additional mutations...even death.
Atavistic Tendencies Sometimes, a lingering affectation or part of the shape remains with the Becomer. When lightly overstepping, sometimes a Becomer will bring back a habit from the form they inhabited. Perhaps they will have a taste for carrion meat when returning from the form of a scavenger, or become brutally irate if in a territorial creature. The variation of these are unknown in number as any sort of behavior can temporarily follow a Becomer from a form they wore.
Atavistic Confusion: The state some Becomers fall into when spending too long in an animal shape or reaching beyond their limits and overstepping. Atavistic confusion can last a few moments to a few days to years. The human mind, the spirit is pushed to the back of the animal consciousness and the Becomer simply exists as the creature they transformed into until their memories resurface. This state can even be induced in a sentient form, manifesting as amnesia.
Totem Corruption: When a Becomer oversteps, that magic can pollute the totems currently carried. This is especially common among totems assimilated. The corruption pollutes one totem with some traits from another. These are always random and the totem is forever altered. Only by creating a new totem from the same creature can the original shape be recalled. There have been a few stories involving Becomers who corrupted their true form, doomed to forever lose it.
Babble Tongue: A form of Atavistic confusion, this disability affects the langauge center of the brain. The Becomer, unaware, will attempt communication as a gestalt of all the forms he has recently taken. If many were animals, those trying to communicate with the Becomer may find growls, curious posture, and tweets to be the part of the nonsense babble a Becomer says. This result is usually temporary, wearing off in one to two trials.
Feral Resistance: An overstepping penalty that can be severe or light depending on how badly it is incurred, Feral resistance forces the ether of a Becomer to flex on a wavelength they are not fully capable of understanding. Some attuners may sense it but this pulse disrupts the minds and behaviors of animals. Usually a temporary penalty, it only effects the animal kingdom that the Becomer was in. Mammals, Birds, Fish, Reptiles, or Insects. Although severe Feral Resistance may effect another kingdom or all. Any and all animals within proximity to the Becomer will either attempt to flee for their life, or hurl themselves savagely at the Becomer in an attempt to kill them...depending on severity.
Totem Restriction: Sometimes, when one oversteps they damage the internal matrix of their totem. The magic is temporarily subdued. Totem restriction is a moderate overstepping penality whereby a totem is temporarily 'neutralized' for a period of time. While the totem is no less a totem, the magic within it will no longer function till it has had time to repair itself. This restriction persists to new totems as well. No animal of that species can be made a totem to replace this totem. The Becomer is effectively locked out of that form.
Totem Rebellion: A severe overstepping penalty. In some rare cases, the Becoming magic fluxes in unexpected ways. A variant of the Totem Guardian ability will manifest, although the totem, rather than being loyal, will attempt to destroy the Becomer or itself if it is unable to accomplish the former. Given the strong relationship some Becomers have to their totems, this is a heartbreaking penalty that most would dread to happen. If one subdues their Totem for the remainder of the time that Totem Guardian can be activated, the totem will return to its state and require seven trials before it is re-integrated with the Becomer.
For a discipline that involves transforming at the most basic level, it might seem curious that a Becomer's initiation involves marking them in a way that carries over to all shapes. However, for wizards of this practice magic is about the possibility of being all things while also remaining oneself at the core.
When initiating a new student, the teacher places their hands against a student's flesh. Imparting the new spark into the student immediately begins to twist and melt the skin, although very little pain is felt during the beginning process. This strange sensation will envelop the student. Only after their entire body warps with the power of Becomng does the danger become apparent. The Student must keep their own shape and identity firmly in mind while their soul and body adapt to the spark. Should the student lose control, their body loses cohesion and can mutate into a dangerous monster called a Mimai. To prevent this, the teacher will often help the student create their first totem before true initiation. This is most commonly done by removing a finger from the student and having them concentrate on the totem during the initiation. When the initiation is complete, the student also gains their very first Brand. The Brand for Becoming is always the same kind among the wizards. Strange, branching, morphic tattoos spread in a brilliant tapestry across their skin. While these tattoos are not necessarily large, they are always colorful.
Much like in the Transmutation discipline, drawing magic through the body can result in mutations. The tragedy with these mutations is that they infect totems, resulting in mutations carrying over between transformations, much like the tattoos. Sometimes the tattoos reach out across the body in a growing tapestry of moving shapes, like another wriggling skin. Sometimes atavistic features will follow a Becomer, features of their base form or transformation will haunt them between new shapes. There has even been word of a Becomer gaining an innate slavering hunger for raw meat, or the inability to consume food they do not hunt and kill. Sometimes, these mutations can be beneficial, skin that exhibits natural camouflage or the permanent growth of ears or nose into something bestial, always blessing the user with the echo of a superior creature's hearing.
The Protean, like the Lich, is a Revelation that is fixed for the Becomer. As ones connection to the totems evolve, so will those consciousnesses begin awakening within the Becomer’s own body. Each totem is an extension of the Becomer. Their personality, loyalties, and preferences will shape the behavior and personality of each totem they possess. Each totem is technically the Becomer, but maintains its own limited and animal intelligence. For sentient beings that a Becomer turns into a totem, personalities and desires will often merge as a melding of the Becomer’s mind and the structure of the mind they have in their totem. At Legendary, a Becomer’s magic works differently. No longer does a Becomer spend ether to shift between forms but instead uses ether to stay rooted in a particular form. Totems, following their own instincts and desires, will attempt to force a change whenever they are restless or moved to try and move around. While a form will never try to exert itself if the mage’s life is physically in danger (Unless that form might protect the mage), it will be somewhat aware of the outside world through the mage. For most beasts, hunger and boredom are its usual motivators to want to walk about. When such forms are placated, they may remain dormant until called for trials at a time. The Becomer builds special relationships with each totem, finding in them kinship and family. It is said that to destroy a Becomer’s totem is to invite immediate and hideous wrath, as if slaying a dear sibling.
When not maintaining their form, a Becomer will begin to transform into any shape that would best fit the situation, or where they feel most comfortable. If any of these shapes are motivated to fear or fury and try to exert themselves, a Becomer can spend ether to ‘lock’ the form in place, preventing the transformation and forcibly maintaining ones shape. Another added bonus is that a Protean’s mind is a mass of different consciousness’s, making Empathy or other mind based abilities difficult to truly effect or cripple a Becomer. It is just as likely the ability might target one of their totem minds rather than their own, which can be reigned into check with their own power.
A Beginner at Becoming is just learning to tap into the unique power of new forms. Novices can hold up to three totems. For the purposes of counting, their first totem, the totem of self does not count. Transformation is agonizing and arduous, taking 6-8 minutes depending on the complexity of the new form. Students are told to embrace this change and understand that to Become, one must experience the state between, of primordial nothingness. There is a sweet moment, teachers say, between what you were and what you are where a Becomer feels nothing at all. That brief moment of oblivion is a focus point for new transformations as it marks the midway point...when you are neither yourself nor what you want to be. At this stage a Becomer is limited to mammals as they most closely mirror the mage's reference of experience. In addition, size can be most animals smaller than the Becomer but only a few that stray much larger. Large cats are about the size limit of novice Becomers. New forms are often initially clumsy as the mage learns to adapt to new centers of balance, locomotion, and body parts. This initial ineptitude is short lived, but always follows a new form for the first few times a Becomer accesses it.
At this level a Becomer can learn to call upon qualities in their transformations, and unlock Echo. Some Becomers forget that clothes do not follow them between transformations, a costly lesson if a mage continues to forget. Toward the end of a beginner's journey they start to explore the innate relationship they can form with totems. Blending is a curious technique but one that absolutely falls within the ability of a Becomer. It sets the stage for Borrowing to come. Beginning and Competent becomers do not often fit in well with other animals of their type. Till at least expert, keener animals will sense a different, enough to avoid or, rarely, attack the transformed mage.
A Competent Becomer gains access to 3 additional totems, setting their limit at six, not including self totem. Finally they are beginning to acclimate their minds to new shapes they take. Competent Becomers lose much of the characteristic clumsiness of a novice within the first few minutes after a successful shapeshifting. They become capable of utilizing Unleash at least once a trial. In addition they learn to Assimilate.
Competent Becomers begin to build a relationship with their totems. Most Becomers at this rank fall into a familiar few forms that they are most comfortable taking, rarely choosing others save for the thrill of acquisition and experiment. A Competent Becomer begins to divserify their shapes in order to respond to specific obstacles they may encounter. A Competent Becomer may choose a new animal group to study and gain totemic access to, Reptiles, Avians, or Fish. In addition, the size a creature the Becomer has access to increases to roughly the size of a horse or medium species of bear. Becoming is a little faster at this level, taking 3-5 minutes depending on the complexity of the change...but the process is still agonizing.
At expertise, a Becomer learns creativity in their craft. By now they've learned to better adapt to the forms they take and have built an impressive reservoir of totems. Becomers at this stage usually still cling to a few comfortable forms they prefer to be within, but some have even abandoned their original form at this juncture to pursue the multiplicity of identity. As their creativity and experiments in the nature of Becoming and totems expands, the ability Borrowing becomes available.
An expert Becomer also finds the speed of their transformations improved. Even under duress, an expert in the art of shapeshifting only needs 2-3 minutes to take a new shape. Unleash becomes available an additional time before needing rest. Chrysalis is learned at this stage of mastery, insulating the Becomer against wounds sustained in various forms. A Third classification of creatures to transform into can now be acquired. A Becomer can now assume shapes roughly the size of a rhinoceros or giraffe. All but some of the largest forms limited from their grasp. The pain is still excruciating as it's impossible to escape the agony of Becoming something new, but by this level of power a mage is at least somewhat accustomed.
Mastery imparts an entirely new level of utility to a Becomer. In addition to being at the near pinnacle of their skill, certain possibilities become available that earlier practitioners could never dream of. At core, a Becomer completely transforms into a new form...becoming something wholly different from what they are. Mastery allows a Becomer to bend those rules. A master becomes capable of Adaption, named for the swift partial transformations a master can utilize. Drawing on their totems, a master can augment an existing shape on the fly for less Ether and less strain. A master gains access to the final kingdom of traditional animals, giving them a wide array of different shapes to collect and experiment with. Transformation at this level is done in the space of a single minute or a little less, depending on complexity. By this time, a Becomer has picked up a curious resistance to pain that has been developing their entire journey. Agony that might halt another of their species only invigorates the mage. Some develop that into a sort of sadism or masochism, but the only truth is that a Becomer is resistant to torture as they have been made and unmade nearly countless times before. New shapes are as easy as slipping into an old one. At this stage, a Becomer can now become beasts as large as Elephants, only the largest of shapes remaining beyond their capability.
A Becomer has only a short period of adjustment when taking a new form and intrinsically knows how to move and even insights into how to act. Only techniques like Flying or swimming still need to be focused on to avoid clumsy beginner mistakes. Ordinary animals and beasts will no longer notice a difference between the Mage and their own species. Unleashing can be done three times a trial before the necessity for rest and a master is a terrifying combatant, flashing between shapes, often healing, and then renewing attack. At mastery, one is able to hold 10 totems at any given time. Frighteningly, at this level a Becomer shatters the concept of self and can learn to unleash their magic on their own totems. Totem Guardian becomes available at this stage to learn and a Becomer begins to form special bonds with the totems they collect. A Becomer at this level has no specific form they feel comfortable in. Many abandon the idea of personal, fixed, identity. Master becomers are at home in any shape they choose.
There are no known Legendary Becomers. It is presumed that if there was one, he or she (it would hardly matter anymore) would rarely be one thing long enough for someone to know. Most perish before reaching this level. A Legendary user becomes a Protean, and often forms a kindship with the totems they currently possess. At Legendary, a Becomer has access to the insect kingdom. Finally, small insects and creatures as large as a whale can be chosen as totems. Legends whisper that there are unique techniques that allow a Becomer to even emulate some magical qualities from creatures previously unable to be acquired. Swarm is granted to a Legendary Becomer, allowing their body to become a gestalt collection of beasts and oddities for combat, escape, or utility. A Becomer's imagination is all that holds them back. United with the Spark, a Becomer sees the world and the natural kingdom as a unique gallery of shapes and abilities to use and explore. A Legendary Becomer has up to 13 totems at any given time. All their transformations takes place in 30 trills (depending on size), unless they wish to Unleash. A Legendary mage of this caliber can be a fearsome opponent, but more often is interested in expanding their consciousness and knowledge beyond the petty limitations and politics of mages. A Becomer seeks to Become all there is and was. Why be one thing when you can be everything?
Credit to Plague