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Morphing

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Image:Scroll2.png "If you just take a look at the biographies of all these great wizards, you will discover that hardly anyone ever died of ripe old age. Some mess with their own souls so badly that even the gods above get headaches from sorting their cases out. Take Amir 'A-Mirror' Berliotz, for instance - a Morpher. People couldn't even tell if he was just one person or an entire team of 'himselves' at the time of death."
- Vuld Shaik, "Skewed lives"


Morphing
Personal magic
Full nameMorphing
AvailabilityThroughout Mizahar
Learned fromUsers, books
Key conceptReshaping one's body in a variety of ways
UsesTransformation, combat, disguise and more
RisksSpontaneous mutations, loss of form and self-identity, insanity


Morphing is a discipline of personal magic that allows the user to reshape their physical body by controlling and spending their Djed. Morphing was one of the first arts mastered by mortals, and it is the magic form that gifted the Kelvic with their animal shapeshifting powers. Beginners can simply transform parts of their bodies for a short duration, but experts can perform full-body metamorphosis, also using another creature as a model. As one progresses in the skill, more and more constraints can be broken, allowing the wizard to turn into something radically different from his true form. Morphing plays with one's very identity, and abusing it can cause someone to forever lose a true notion of identity - much like the Kelvic.

Contents

Overview

Morphing is often considered the most ancient form of magic. Ancient cave paintings have been found in Kalea depicting Protohuman men with beast-like appendages fighting monsters, proving that this discipline is much older than any form of writing. The discipline has since been greatly refined, and now has many more uses than simply crude enhancement of a man's fighting ability.

In Morphing, the wizard's Djed is consumed to change his physical structure. The transformation is undone after a while unless he keeps fueling it, and the body returns to normal, much like an elastic material. Morphing, when properly executed, is painless even though it can be accompanied by tactile sensations. Transformations do not happen instantly; rather, they are continuous and both fascinating and terrible to behold. The user's flesh is pulled, twisted and shifted until it reached the desired layout. Beginners sometimes manipulate their bodies with their own hands, aiding the transformation by physically pulling and pushing their limbs and bones. More experienced users have a repertoire of transformations that they can perform more or less flawlessly; these are called "models". Acquiring a new model can take time and research, depending on how complex it is. Just altering one's face to look like someone else requires much less power and Djed than morphing into a whale, though the former task arguably requires more finesse and attention to details.

There are limits to what one can Morph into - for example, when used alone, it is limited to organic materials only. One cannot turn their fists into steel, though they may be able to surround their hands with an exoskeleton. Other constraints can be relaxed or broken altogether with experience; for example, novices cannot change their total mass, whereas masters can do so radically.

Because it alters one's physical form, Morphing is one of the more dangerous disciplines of magic. In keeping with the elastic analogy, when a material is subjected too much stress, it will either snap or fail to return to its original form. The same can happen to a Morpher who went past their limit; leading to strange mutations and bodies that seem to forget what they looked like initially. Those who wish to be everything must be prepared to become nothing.

Degrees of Transformation

These transformations can be mixed and matched at will, within the limits of one's skill level.

  • Partial transformations. Most beginners will never dare to transform more than one third of their bodies at a time. Turning fingers and nails into claws or paws, growing scales, or simply shifting one's face to look like someone else are examples of this. It would be difficult for a novice to completely emulate someone else's appearance, though.
  • Full-body transformations. More advanced users can finally extend their Morphing to the whole body. These take considerable time - spanning quite a few minutes - when performed without a model, and are not very accurate at first. If a model-less transformation is performed enough times, it will slowly become a model itself as it fixes in the wizard's memory.
  • Model transformations. A skilled Morpher can study another creature for some time, grasp its anatomy and finally memorize this Morphing into his repertoire. This stock form can be recalled at will any number of times, and much more quickly than a generic transformation (seconds). Particularly skilled wizards can even improvise by modifying the model on the fly to fit their current needs. There is no limit to how many models a wizard can have, but learning a new model can take days or even weeks of study and regular close access to the creature to be copied. The more the model differs from the wizard, the longer it takes. Magical abilities of the model will not be copied, however.
  • Supreme transformations. Heresy to all but the most brilliant (and bold) wizards, this form of Morphing allows the user to continuously transform into extreme forms. Moreover, when a master of this caliber copies from a model, he can even emulate most special powers and innate abilities of the creature being modeled (though not learned skills). Typically, if a wizard is capable of such a feat, he spends so much time in alternate shapes that his original form is all but forgotten.

Notes

  • While Morphing can turn someone into a bird, it will not teach them how to fly. The user needs to learn how to act like what he Morphs into. Unless one is very skilled, it is advisable to thoroughly practice a form before using it in a life-or-death situation.
  • Morphers cannot transform others unless they resort to Glyphing or other world magic.
  • Voices are difficult to get right. A Morpher cannot copy a voice by just looking at someone; they need to hear it first.
  • There are ways to detect a tranformed Morpher; for example, even when they take on an animal form, their auras are still as large as a sentient being's.
  • Wounded tissue is much harder to Morph, and as such it is extremely difficult to use Morphing for self-healing purposes. Most often, wounds carry over across transformations.
  • The user is limited to Morphing into substances from the animal and vegetal world he has come across before.
  • When doing partial transformations, body balance, joints and mobility should all be taken into consideration. A transformation can bring disadvantages, as well.
  • Remember the square-cube law: joint strength grows with the square of size, but mass grows with the cube. This means that big creatures are very slow and cumbersome, and get hurt easily from falls. Conversely, small creatures take much more blunt damage in combat.

Learning Morphing

Morphing is mostly a practical discipline learned through experience on the field. There is relatively little theory and a lot of practice and trial-and-error involved. Much like Voiding, there is no real initiation ritual required to start practicing it, just weeks of constant meditation and focus. Aspiring Morphers fast, meditate and empty their minds until they completely separate their minds from their physical forms, at which point Morphing first becomes possible.

Progression

Novice (1-25)
A novice Morpher can perform small scale partial transformations with or without a model. Morphing is slow, somewhat awkward, and overall quite limited. Fancy shapes are absolutely not advised.
Competent (26-50)
Now more confident in his abilities, the Morpher can transform the entirety of his body, though he cannot stray from his original mass much. Shapeshifting, especially with a model, is faster and more accurate than before.
Expert (51-75)
The expert's transformations are very accurate - almost like the real thing. If he turns into a snake, his bite will be moderately poisonous. If he Morphs into a feline, he can see with almost no light. He can also improvise on the model to a degree.
Master (76-100)
A master can be almost anything. There is no longer a "transformation" followed by "usage" of the new form; the user is constantly transforming and adapting his form by the moment. He inherits even special abilities from the creatures he copies. He can become as large as a whale or as little as an ant, within the limits of his available Djed. He also acquires new models faster than anyone else.


Part of a series of articles on Magic
Concepts Magic · Magic list · Djed · Personal magic · Gnosis · World magic
Personal magic Auristics · Familiary · Flux · Hypnotism · Leeching · Morphing · Projection · Reimancy · Voiding · Shielding
Gnosis Gnosis · Gnosis list· Gnosis Marks · Religion
World magic Alchemy · Animation · Glyphing · Magecraft · Malediction · Summoning · Spiritism · Webbing
Magic in Society Magic academies · Magic factions · Famous wizards
Lost Disciplines Architectrix · Dominion · Pathfinding · Static · Sensing
Other Antimagic · Paramagic · Wizard psychology