I kind of like that phrase – “shapeshifting yourself dead”. Would anyone reasonable want to do that? Probably not. Would any player? Probably not.

Then again, maybe one player out there would.

But stepping back from the brink of things that really should only happen for damned good story reasons, there are a few shapeshifting things that the ADRPG just doesn’t deal with well.

Take the weir, or any other common werewolf of your choice. There’s a 1-point ability for items and creatures that lets them have a single alternate form, so NPC werewolves are no big deal. Or you could have a selkie – same thing, different animal. You could have an NPC with a suite of alternate shapes – Named and Numbered, even – for 2 points.

For a PC, there is… 35 points of shapeshifting.

Um.

Wujick walks this fine line sometimes between making you pay for something that’s innate and letting you treat it as innate and free when it comes to item and creature creation. I suspect that’s what the issue is here; he probably felt that the weir are inherently able to shift to a single alternate form, and thus shouldn’t need to pay for something innate.

Even though it offers a half-weir PC a bit of an advantage, wouldn’t you say? Or a huge disadvantage, depending on the GM.

That, or he saw no reason that a character concept might include only one or a handful of shapes, but not the other powers of shapeshifting.

I suspect this issue right here is one of the big ones that leads to partial power house rules. Pattern has some divisions that can be made, and so does Trump and Logrus, but none of them are so necessary as to be required. To work properly, shapeshifting as presented in the ADRPG needs to be a partial power system.

(It also argues – again – that the item and creature creation section is broken, but that is best saved for discussion elsewhere.)

And then there’s the “alternate shapes might cause changes in strength, endurance, etc” the author casually slaps down with no particular explanation of how or why he’d allow it. I realize it’s backed up in canon – see Merlin’s fight with the Dweller on the Threshold – but it has potential to be an easy game-breaker if you just casually toss it out like that, sans any sort of balancing mechanism.

And there’s my favorite phrase – it’s ill-defined and ill-advised when it comes to the abilities and the divisions between them. Most of basic Shapeshifting is devoted to “when things go wrong” instead of to the power itself. The powers offered are kind of all over the map – at basic, you can shift your features, with the mechanic described as mimicking a feature of someone else, but only at advanced can you imitate someone? Huh?

I have some ideas on how I want to handle Shapeshifting, I think, but it warrants further thought. A la carte ordering is definitely on the menu, though…

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