Major therianthrope types

While "a theri is a theri is a theri" for many of the legal and social issues surrounding TheChanges, not all therianthropes are created equal. Their various forms, capabilities and interactions with unchanged humans lead to very different life experiences for different theris.

Within TTU, attempts at classification generally lead scholars to identify between 4 and 9 subgroups of therianthrope, out of the 10 listed here. While these divisions typically carry no legal weight, and while their edges are considerably blurry, such clusterings do provide a starting point for science (both hard and social), and are generally backed up by the common characteristics that group members share.

Note that these groups are not taxonomically meaningful and in no way designate "species" in the biological sense. TheriBiology is complex.

The numbers given along with "Percentage of Theri Population" are rough estimates designed to give some sense of each subgroup's visibility in the population at large; their wide range is meant to take into account the slow spread of therianthropy over time. In later eras, populations will trend toward the higher end of the range.

The total (nonhuman) therianthrope population is between 0.01% (1/10,000) and 0.1% (1/1,000) of humanity, increasing over time.

The Big Three


A TTU "were" has a theri form of an animal that existed pre-Changes. A "classical" werewolf -- the person shifts between a human form and a four-legged wolf form -- is a "were."

Werewolves are the most common -- it's typical to correlate this with the fame of the myth -- but other examples range from big cats to various mammals, birds, snakes, and sea animals. (Most weres' animal form is predatory; though this could simply be a reflection of the human bias toward charismatic megafauna.) There's also a strong Eastern tradition of this sort of therianthropy -- variously called obake, bakemono, yokai, or hengeyokai -- among which foxes (kitsune) are popular.

Physical characteristics: When in theri form, weres are to all surface appearances normal animals. Some are unusually large for a representative of their species, but size will be within the limits of the species' possibility. They retain their human memories and intelligence, and usually their full consciousness and volition. A very few have the capability for human speech, but typically communication is accomplished through magical effect, nonverbal means, or through shifting back to human form.


An "anthro" has a theri form that is a human/animal hybrid. Anthros' forms are basically human in shape and capability, but have features of animals (or mythic creatures). A "Hollywood" werewolf, where a man changes into a seven-foot-tall, two-legged furred beast, counts as an "anthro."

Anthrowolves are the most common creature type by a small margin -- it's typical to correlate this with the fame of the werewolf myth -- but there is an enormous spectrum of anthros in mammal, reptile, avian, and even aquatic and insect styles (with mammals being the most common). A majority of anthros have features from a single source animal, but hybrids (e.g. fox-cat, tiger-wolf, zebra-unicorn) are reasonably common. Superhybrids (mix-and-match features from 3+ species) are also known, but sufficiently strange forms may be lumped in with Mythics (see below).

Physical characteristics: All anthros stand upright; have the capability for human speech; have two legs (which may be plantigrade or digitigrade or hooved); and have (at least) two hands with opposable thumbs. The face features a elongated muzzle, beak, etc., appropriate to the nonhuman aspect of their form, and is the most recognizably nonhuman part of their anatomy. Almost all are 5-8 feet tall (1.6-2.6m). A few have wings or extra arms, but most are four-limbed. Most have tails. The body is generally covered with fur/scales/feathers/etc appropriate to the nonhuman aspects of their form, but typically has human secondary sexual characteristics (e.g. humanlike genitalia, and chest-mounted mammalian breasts in females).


A mythic is any non-anthro, non-were theri. It is a catchall category rather than a grouping of common features: any theri form that doesn't fit a more specific classification is lumped in with "mythic." Most commonly, this refers to creatures with a well-known existing archetype in popular mythology. (Some scholars try to limit the "mythic" category to those theris, and throw the remaining outliers into a different catch-all category, but this merely shifts the problem.)

If there is a "most common" among mythics, it would be the ones whose backgrounds are (metaphorically and literally) larger-than-life-sized: dragons, gryphons and unicorns. Centaurs (and other, stranger "-taurs" of various kinds), pegasi, ki-rin, and other big-name myths are reasonably well-represented. The remainder is a mixed bag and can get outright bizarre. Note that there are several classes of mythological creature that nevertheless fall under one of the other theri categories: for instance, werewolves are weres; kitsune are polyweres/weres; mermaids and minotaurs are quasihumans/anthros.

Physical characteristics: Variable, to almost ridiculous extremes. Most are capable of human speech. The form may conform to standard mythological roots, or come from some intensely personal mythology that leaves little to hang an expectation on. Sizes may range from 1 foot (.3m) long, up to approx. 60 feet (18m) nose-to-tailtip for the largest dragons. Bodies may have inherently magical (or otherwise physically impossible) capabilities, such as dragons' flight and firebreathing; this makes it awfully difficult to define whether a mythic who can't consciously cast spells is a mage or not.

Other Subgroups


A quasihuman is a theri whose form is mostly human with visible nonhuman elements. Largely, quasihumans' forms come from myths depicting changed-human or near-human figures; this category covers vampires, angels, some devils (such as succubi), mermaids, minotaurs, and the like. It also covers humanoid beings with no bestial characteristics -- mostly elves, though a few other Tolkienesque and/or fantastic races are known to exist in very tiny numbers.

This is a relatively small group, and elves are by far the most common, if only due to their greater organization before The Changes and higher profile afterward (aided in no small part by CharacterElf). For all their popularity in myth, vampires are notably absent immediately after The Changes, and remain difficult to find for quite some time; VampiresInTTU has more detail.

Physical characteristics: In most cases, the theri's new form will be identical to their old one, with the physical additions of their new form: added fangs or feathered wings or legs transformed into a tail or whatnot. Elves tend to be tall and frail, though there's a substantial contingent of short/child-sized elves (Elfquest Wolfrider style). Notably, quasihumans' shapeshifting effect often seems to power itself through the body's stored energy if the original form was overweight, leading mages to jokingly refer to the "10-minute elf weight-loss program."

Subgroup Of: Anthros and/or mythics.


A dinosaur is a type of were whose form is that of ... well, a dinosaur. They are mentioned separately from weres because, while dinosaurs clearly existed on Earth before the Changes, the fact that dinosaurs were extinct did create additional challenges for would-be theris. Most weres were able to meet, or at least watch on TV, the animals with which they identified; dinos had to make do with bones, imagination and artwork, in a similar way to anthros and mythics. Dino theris also quickly became sought after by paleontologists for research purposes, although the debate over whether any dino theris actually match the fossil record is fierce and ongoing.

Raptors are the most common dino theri. The largest dinos, including T. Rex, are unknown as theris despite their pre-Changes public appeal; some theri scholars assert that this is evidence for a size cap of some kind on would-be shapeshifters.

Physical characteristics: As per their dinosaur type -- although factors not directly confirmed from fossils vary widely! Some raptors are feathered, some scaled; dino theris seem split between cold- and warm-blooded; coloration and behavior are all over the map. As with weres, dinos retain their human intelligence and volition while in dino form, although many lack the capability for human speech.

Subgroup Of: Weres


A polywere is a theri with multiple related nonhuman forms. Generally a polywere's shifting capabilities will be: human, human/animal hybrid (i.e., anthro), and animal (i.e., were), of the same animal type; such theris are also called "anthroweres." Other configurations are possible, such as mythics that also have a hybrid/anthro form, or theris whose archetype has two related forms it can shift between (examples include some anthros whose form can be two different genders, or who transform into a combat-oriented form for self-defense).

Anthroweres are the majority of this group, led by anthrowerewolves; beyond that, it's a mixed bag with a lot of individualism.

Physical characteristics: Anthroweres' forms tend to have the characteristics of the anthro and were forms as described above. Polyweres that have at least one anthro form (which is nearly all of them) generally follow the anthro pattern for those forms.

Subgroup Of: Anthros and/or weres, with a side order of mythic.


True shapeshifters are the rare theris that have no fixed nonhuman form. Although anyone with access to sufficiently powerful magic can temporarily become any form they like, those changes require the continual expenditure of energy and willpower; shapeshifters can become anything as an innate effect and so can effortlessly take on any theri form for any length of time, retaining their new shape even if knocked unconscious or counterspelled. See ShapeshiftingInTTU for more detail.

Physical characteristics: Basically any living species (normal, theri or fantastic) that they desire -- with the caveat that shifters can't innately access human forms besides the one they started with. Theri researchers suggest that the leftover resonance of their pre-theri form is strong enough to disrupt such attempts. (N.b.: as a conscious, magical effect, it's still possible.)

Shifters also have to have a pretty clear idea of what they want to change into in order to get the resonance stable; when first using a new type of form, many will wait until a theri is physically present that they can mimic. (More experienced shifters have built up a repertoire of forms that they've previously used and can reactivate with minimal effort.) Most shifters will retain human speech regardless of their chosen form.

Subgroup Of: Mythics, kind of.


Inanimates are theris whose form is outside the animal kingdom: plants, living minerals, or stranger things. Who they are, and how they got that way, is outside of the boundaries of normal therianthropy -- but since their condition seems to follow similar rules, some classification systems include them.

To say that inanimates are rare would be an understatement; inanimates are to rare what rare is to common. The least rare of them would probably be the occasional plant theri, like a dryad or an ent.

Physical characteristics: Since the capabilities of non-animal bodies don't generally include niceties like movement, speech, etc., most of the capabilities of these theris' forms come from whatever magic they are able to still wield. Some theri researchers believe that, in a certain sense, these theris have become beings of elemental magic, with their spirit continually gathering and using energy to occupy a form it's not meant to fit into. This suggests that placing inanimates in an antimagic field for any non-trivial length of time would immediately kill them.

Subgroup Of: Mythics

Human "Theris"

It's linguistically inaccurate (and could be considered offensive) to apply the word "therianthrope" -- literally meaning "beast-man" -- to a human. However, in TTU, "therianthropy" is the accepted term for the broader phenomenon of physically shifting to match one's self-image, so virtually everyone uses that label for humans who have undergone a therianthropic shift into a different human form. (This is not without its controversy; see TransgenderInTTU.) Mages are also included for completeness here, even though their classification as theris was due to an early misunderstanding about the nature of therianthropy.

Gender Theris

This section is under heavy revision. To contribute, please read and join the discussion at Baxil's LJ.

A number of people used the opportunity of TheChanges to alter themselves in ways that had nothing to do with species -- using a therianthropic shift to change their physical sexual characteristics to match their gender of identity.

In many ways, transgendered humans-who-shifted could be considered the "forgotten theris" of the setting. Although (gender-)trans theris outnumber (transspecies) theris, trans shifts are overshadowed by the latter's more visually compelling forms. After The Changes, they didn't get instant-celebrity leaders, or hold thousands-strong meetings, or stare down the government.

In fact, even years after The Changes, a high proportion of trans theris try to live in ways that minimize others' knowledge of their change. There are many reasons for trans theris' relative secrecy -- not the least of which are quality of life and personal safety. Even in TTU, gender issues are somewhat taboo, and the idea of broken gender barriers can provoke a disproportionate visceral reaction.

Physical characteristics: Human. (Even those with atypical genital characteristics, such as dual genitals, are within the range of recorded human variance -- though functioning hermaphrodism does push the boundaries a bit. Conditions beyond that -- such as smooth skin where genitalia would normally go; or turning into a being with multiple, distinct human forms -- would lead to that individual being labeled quasihuman. Classification schemes that contain both this category and quasihumans tend to have a thin boundary between the two.)

Subgroup Of: N/A

Other Human "Theris"

Section to be written. Largely composed of edge cases such as people with BIID (therianthropic self-amputation). More at Baxil's LJ.


Using the word "therianthrope" to describe human mages is fundamentally inaccurate, for the same reasons listed above. However, the earliest attempts at theri classification included them. So did popular sentiment shortly after The Changes. Since magic and therianthropy sprung up side by side, and since they do demonstrably have some correlation, it was broadly assumed that mages were somehow different in the same way that theris were -- and a product of the same (albeit subtler) transformation.

It would take a few months to dispel these assumptions. Until early 1997, most theri classification systems listed mages as a subgroup of therianthropes. As time passed, it became more common to (properly) categorize magic as a skill accessible to anyone, and mages as merely people (of any form) who had learned that skill.

Ironically, as magic became more widespread and disciplined, mages would begin replicating the shapeshifting effect that theris were intuitively accessing -- which gave almost anyone the ability to temporarily spend time in another body, lowered the threshold of effort required for true therianthropy, and made theri classification an even more hopeless goal.

Physical characteristics: Human, except when shapeshifting via an active spell effect.

Subgroup Of: N/A

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