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This is an old revision of ShapeshiftingInTTU made by BaxilDragon on 2009-11-30 22:58:41.


Shapeshifting In TTU

This page discusses the various ways that people change the physical shape of their body in TTU, whether magical (via a spell) or innate (like theris do). It also has some notes on the interaction of shapeshifting, shapeshifters and magic. BecomingATheri is outside the scope of this document; see it for more details.

The basis of shapeshifting

Is shapeshifting magic?

The one-sentence summary of what happened to the Earth when it was struck by TheChanges would be: "It became possible for people to directly manifest their beliefs within reality." In other words, magic started working. But "magic" in the traditional spellcasting sense was not the first sign of The Changes: shapeshifting was, as therianthropes changed from human form into Something Else.

At heart, shapeshifting is just a different aspect of the same phenomenon. Shapeshifters are doing the same thing mages are: manifesting their beliefs on reality (in this case, a belief that they possess a different physical form).

However, most mages agree that -- if "manifesting beliefs" was solely responsible for all of The Changes' effects -- physical shapeshifting should have been virtually impossible. Shapeshifting is an intricate and immense effect -- including (but hardly limited to!) creating/destroying/rearranging large amounts of matter; making said matter organically functional; and changing a living organism's biofeedback loops on the fly without fatal internal injury!

It's one thing to light a candle by willing a flame into existence; it's quite another for a theri to grow a set of arms or wings and immediately be competent at their use. There's a huge extra effect that goes into that latter process.

In the early days after the Changes, it was only theris who seemed to be able to tap that "something extra"; it remained elusive for others. But mages did quickly decipher the process -- and were able to use that knowledge to begin crafting more complex and efficient spells that unlocked the possibility of shapeshifting for everyone.

How souls shape theris

Every living being has a life force -- we'll just call it a "soul," even though the mechanism by which it acts doesn't necessarily match the image the word conjures up.

That soul is the total of what it means to be that living being. It's more than just the memories and emotions in the brainmeats. It's more than the nervous system's bodywide control and biofeedback. It's more than the cellular processes that keep everything alive to receive those messages. It is the sum of all these things, and more. It's the way that the body interacts with itself, from molecules to cells up to organs -- the gestalt of the incredible society of moving parts that goes into what we call a person.

Cogito, ergo sum, Descartes said; some mages go farther and assert that life itself is matter deciding to assert that it is alive, continually throwing willpower behind this assertion until one day it gets a little too distracted and can't fight off the universe's suggestions to the contrary any more.

It is this soul that powers magic in TTU, loaning its volition to whatever effects its owner decides to call into being in the world outside it. But whether someone is a mage or not, that volition is always active.
Their soul constantly courses through their body, giving and receiving feedback, not only being shaped by the physical limits of that person's form but also shaping them in return, giving that form constant feedback and reinforcement, adding subconscious volition into maintaining itself exactly as it is.

Mages call this continuous synchronization of a person's soul and body their resonance.

However, resonance is not a constant. It can be changed. If a kitchen knife slips and cuts you, your body asserts its normality as usual, but is suddenly opposed by the knife's physical rearrangement of your skin and your subconscious acceptance of the laws of physics. Resonance fails, regroups, and reasserts itself in its new slightly-bloodier configuration.

Resonance changes can also come from inside. Some people simply believe that the body they currently possess is not the one they were meant to inhabit. (Here on our Earth, this can range from phantom limb syndrome to the transgendered or transspecies). Their awareness of its incorrectness is itself a form of feedback, and the resonance reacts to that.

Their soul is never quite at home in their body. And within TTU, the dramatic increase in the power of that internal volition can charge up the soul enough for it to assert itself into something it finds more appropriate. Then, under the right circumstances, the body itself can be rebuilt to that resonance; the new match between soul and form cascades into a positive feedback loop, and they not only change form but stabilize into their "proper" shape. They have become a therianthrope.

Methods Theris Use To Shapeshift

Memory resonance

When therianthropes shift into their new form, and the resonance asserts itself into something the soul decides is intuitively more correct, it's a basically permanent shift. They no longer have any reason to feel out of place within their own skin (or fur, or scales). However, theris do have a very powerful tool in their internal arsenal, and many (but not all!) make use of it: memory.

A theri who has just become a dragon after The Changes will have a body that finally fits, but will also have decades of experience in a human body -- a lifetime of memories and sensations. Those who are willing and able to do so can sit down, focus, and imagine themselves back into that body; their soul will respond and reshape itself, and their resonance will get fuzzy again. At that point, the theri -- who by definition has already had experience with physical shapeshifting, and who has a better idea of how to summon conscious willpower and evoke a specific trigger -- can catalyze the resonance cascade and force the soul to force another body rebuild back to human form. And, armed with the memories of their earlier shapeshifting, they can do the same thing again to return to true form; ad infinitum.

For some reason, not all theris have this skill. Some cannot even reshape their resonance after specific tutoring -- but these also tend to be the theris that were so firm about their need to change that they may not even want to try! (Do note that this will NOT prevent unintentional theris from being stuck in a form they don't want. See BecomingATheri for more details.) TheriTypes has statistics about which classes of theri are more likely to be able to do this.


Some therianthropes are lucky enough to be able to inherently shapeshift: the body that their resonance has adjusted to possesses some sort of innate capacity to rewire its own resonance. This isn't an issue of memory; the activity that the body itself generates is full of small and subtle cues that can produce those resonance feedback loops with a thought, and so even a (were) werewolf that was born in wolf form will be able to instinctively become a human.

Largely, this is limited to theris whose mythology includes shapeshifting prowess, such as werecreatures and (a few) dragons. Theris whose form is that of a non-mythological animal also seem to have an innate shapeshifting ability, even those who don't think of themselves as "werecreatures"; some mages say this is due to a subconscious acceptance that they exist somewhere between the animal and human worlds, and can't be fully animal due to their status as a sapient being.


The raw amount of power necessary to create a theri -- not only making raw changes in people's bodies, but also adjusting their resonance to make the change permanent -- isn't generally achievable via spellcasting. When an outside spell works against the body's resonance, the body will fight back -- and it's on its home turf, and it's got nothing to lose.

However, the earliest -- and still most common -- shapeshifting spells can temporarily fool a body into futzing with its own resonance under conscious control, producing a cascade and a shapeshift effect that can be maintained as long as the consciousness can actively assert the shift. (Once the spell's target loses focus or consciousness, the soul will go "Hey, waaaaaiiit a minute!" and kick off a resonance cascade to revert itself.)

/in progress

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