Morpher

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All throughout the planet Sigzlor's most ancient records, there are mentions of the ever-shifting morpher race. Though historically low in population, the morphers' ability to meld with any culture and even shift their appearance to suit their home keeps them from ever being isolated. Morphers might occupy a variety of roles with an even greater variety of identities, yet the most infamous of this race in the modern popular subconscious have led to all of them having a reputation for being ideally suited for subterfuge and even political assassinations.

Etymology and Other Names

The term morpher entered into most languages from Sigzlorian terms for the race that focused less on the morphers' ability to change shape, but their ability to turn others into morphers. As such, they were considered a people who could morph others. The condition of being turned into a morpher from another race, drastholopy, is derived from the Eruino term for morpher, drast, literally meaning turns-others. Other languages usually lose this distinction and tend to mostly make reference to the morphers' near-unique ability to alter their physical form.

Biology

In their natural state, morphers are lithe and smooth to the touch; their skin naturally regenerates and heals at a rapid rate and does not scar easily except through repeat or unusually intense damage. It is consequently common for morphers to have few to no marks on their skin, as even incidental damage will be gone within a day or two. Their skin has been commonly described as almost feeling silky due to the usual lack of blemishes. A morpher's thin body and gangly limbs belie a high body density and correspondingly heavy weight. Even when they alter their shape, a morpher's weight remains unchanged, and inexperienced morphers may retain their original proportions when they change their appearance, particularly their arms reaching their knees in length.

Morpher heads are broad and bear three horns -- two protruding from their forehead and one on their narrow, curved snouts. It is common for a morpher's horns to split off at the tip or to be bent or curved in some fashion. They also have a bony frill on the backs of their heads; both a morpher's frill and their horns are often the most distinctive parts of a morpher's natural appearance, as their body colorations are almost always completely solid colored and tend to be muted in hue. A morpher's frill may be differently colored from the rest of their body, though not always.

Though morphers are bipedal and have a naturally upright stance, they may walk with a bit of a hunch to disguise their natural proportions. Their tails tend to be long enough to drag along the ground, and a morpher in their true form will generally signal their mood with the posture of their head. Pointing one's horns towards someone else is an aggressive posture, whereas tilting the head back is more sociable or even a sign of respect and trust. Their head's position does little to disguise the distinctively large and hollow fangs that all morphers have. The hollow fangs of a morpher are able to release a venom that can cause the bitten individual to contract drastholopy and eventually turn into a morpher.

Sociology

File:Njo2.png
Morphers who were turned later in life, rather than being born as morphers, often try to maintain their original appearance, like Njóskkari Skkartön.

Many morphers, being displaced members of other races who have become morphers themselves, have little to no real ties to conventional morpher culture, yet inadvertently subscribe to it all the same. The mindset of a typical morpher is that a given individual should remain undetected in a group setting, striving to make changes behind the scenes if any should be made at all. The idea is to never draw attention to one's self intentionally and to let fame naturally follow acts that merit it. To deliberately seek after glory or fame upsets social balance, as it distracts from the most necessary changes and can lead to complacency. Many individuals who become morphers rather than being born as one find themselves also occupying low-profile roles in society to avoid being flung into the spotlight and outed as something other than what they presented as. It is common for such individuals, especially if they became a morpher out of necessity or without a choice in the matter, to try to live their lives as they did prior to being turned; others discovering their identity as a morpher jeopardizes the "illusion" of still being the same.

A common notion among morpher cultures is the idea that complete power is inherently corruptive to an individual, and it is the responsibility of the group to restore balance by removing the corrupt individual from power. Morpher governments traditionally have individuals with conflicting ideals at equal measures of power to ensure that neither will usurp complete control over national affairs. To a morpher, a tyrant is as much the product of the individual's choices as they are also the product of a system that facilitated absolute power being handed to one person. Some Sigzlorian countries with high morpher populations tell tales of morpher assassins that sullied their hands for the group's ultimate benefit, assassinating corrupt political leaders and then disappearing into the shadows with nary a soul witness to their act. Such assassins are said to never seek fame for their high-profile slaughters, yet those desiring their services manage to find them in the end regardless.

Though these legends are often rooted in stereotype and fear of the unknown, they do highlight the traditional morpher approach to morality -- that it is inherently subjective and based on the group's needs. As such, it is not uncommon for morphers to be found in typically sinister lines of work for ultimately "benevolent" reasons. They can be prone to vigilante justice as well, and even those who became morphers later in life can find themselves inclined to such mentalities, hidden behind countless disguises and a variety of personalities meant to shield their true identity while doing what they view as necessary for the greater good. It is thought that the natural tendency of morphers to hide their identities emboldens them to do what others will not, both in their own senses of the greater good and also simply to act in their own desires. So long as their desires do not harm the group, the vast majority of morphers see little wrong with pursuing even reckless and dangerous hobbies.

Racial Traits (D&D 3.5e/Pathfinder)

Overview

Morphers are a Medium race with the alterum subtype and have no penalties or bonuses associated with their size. Morpher characters may choose either +2 Charisma and -2 Wisdom or +2 Dexterity and -2 Charisma to be applied to their starting attributes. Many morphers are adept at blending in with others and learn to overlook details in the name of social cohesion; other morphers may be unsettling to look at for their inherent and seemingly unnatural flexibility and lack of care for what other races' bodies are supposed to look like.

Morph (Ex)

Flavor

For centuries, morphers' ability to change their body has been the subject of attention from both the curious public and the invasive scientist. Not only can a morpher grant themselves near-perfect disguises, but they can also change just little pieces of their body -- nearly undetectable alterations that give them numerous advantages, such as a stronger tail, keener senses, or a more fearsome bite that can turn other Kylians into morphers themselves.

Mechanics

Once per encounter as an immediate action, a morpher may grant themselves one of the following abilities until Morph is used again. At character level 5, the morpher may select up to two different abilities from this list.

Mindmorph

Make a chosen Intelligence-based skill into a class skill while active. If the selected skill is already a class skill, the morpher instead receives a +1 racial bonus to that skill.

Brawnmorph

Make a chosen Strength-based skill into a class skill while active. If the selected skill is already a class skill, the morpher instead receives a +1 racial bonus to that skill.

Deftmorph

Make a chosen Dexterity-based skill into a class skill while active. If the selected skill is already a class skill, the morpher instead receives a +1 racial bonus to that skill.

Sensemorph

Make a chosen Wisdom-based skill into a class skill while active. If the selected skill is already a class skill, the morpher instead receives a +1 racial bonus to the skill.

Heartsmorph

Gain +1 Fortitude while active. Once per encounter, the morpher gains fast healing 2 for a number of rounds equal to their character level.

Jawmorph

Gain a bite natural attack that deals 1d6 damage. If the morpher succeeds on a bite attack roll granted through this Morph ability, and the target of the attack has the creature typing of Kylian, then the target must immediately make a DC 20 Fortitude saving throw against the drastholopy disease. Creatures that are immune to diseases or that do not have the Kylian creature typing are immune to drastholopy.

This DC increases to DC 25 at character level 10 and DC 30 at character level 20.

Walkmorph

Base movement speed increases by 5ft while active. At character level 10, this bonus increases to 10ft.

Tailmorph

Gain a tail slap natural attack that deals 1d6 damage.

Keywords: Extraordinary ability, active, swift action, encounter, choice

In Plain Sight (Natural Ability)

Flavor

The namesake shape-changing ability of the morphers is a double-edged sword; they are accepted when they can blend in, and they are rejected when discovered, for they blended in well, but not well enough. No matter a morpher's reasons for altering their form, they must take care to make their disguises as perfect as they can, undetectable to not only the naked eye, but magical means of discerning identity.

Mechanics

Morphers have a +2 racial bonus to Disguise.

Keywords: Natural ability, passive

Harmless Guile (Natural Ability)

Flavor

When deceiving through disguises, morphers often find themselves in need of telling half-truths or outright lies to maintain the charade. It is a necessary part of their role in society; were they always honest, they would find themselves at the center of unwanted scrutiny. When all eyes are on a morpher, the morpher is unable to accomplish anything, and so they see the need to lie and make themselves seem all the more unassuming.

Mechanics

Morphers have a +2 racial bonus to Bluff.

Keywords: Natural ability, passive