7x7 profile: the shape shifters Picture

When I first started creating my Vistallah setting, I didn't have any sort of plan in mind. I simply needed something neat to draw, and wanted some sort of backstory for it all. As I came up with new things to draw, I added new concepts to the setting, and the world was slowly cobbled together. But the bigger the setting got, the more I felt it needed some structure. Some unifying theme that would make it something more than just a random patchwork of ideas...

And now I've come up with that theme! And I think its a clever theme. Its not perfect--in large part because I'm trying to shoe-horn previously existing ideas into a structure they weren't designed for--but I think it will suit my purposes. It will give some structure to the setting, it will put an upper limit on the number of creatures in the setting, and it gives me a great excuse to do profiles for everything in the setting, all in one place!

So here's the theme: 7x7. There shall be 7 categories of creations in Vistallah. And in each category, there shall be 7 entries. For a total of 49 sentient, non-inherantly-evil creations.
There shall be 7 Real Species.
There shall be 7 Half Species.
There shall be 7 Covenant Races.
There shall be 7 Shape Shifters.
There shall be 7 Denizens.
There shall be 7 Gods.
And there shall be 7 Goddesses.

And now we come to the 7 Shape Shifters:

The Seven Shape-Shifters
The next batch of creations are the shape shifters. The shape shifters all started as non-sentient beings who were given intelligence and human-like form by divine intervention. They have the ability to magically transform at will back and forth between their human-form and their animal/natural-form. Like the half-species, the shape-shifters all exist as a single gender, and thus must mate with one of the real species (while in human-form, obviously) in order to perpetuate themselves.

Wood Nymph--The Farmer
The Wood Nymph is a tree-sized tree spirit. The Wood Nymphs were originally trees, but were given human-form by Shole--The Farmer. Her human-form is always lithe, fair-haired and scantily clad. And, of course, her human-form is the the same size as a tree form. Which can be quite large...

As their name implies, Wood Nymphs generally have a cheerful, flirty, and naturally light-hearted attitude. While friendly, they are shy around large groups, and are easily frighted. When frightened, they tend to revert to their tree form and wait for the danger to pass. This is not always the best survival tactic, but it is what comes naturally.

Most Wood Nymphs live in the forests. By necessity (for breeding) they often live at the edges of forests, near Human, Drow, or Elven habitations. Although they do not build dwelling for themselves, most Wood Nymphs have a 'home' which they cultivate into a garden--as all followers of their patron god would. On occasion Wood Nymphs can be 'domesticated' and will take up residence in gardens cultivated by others.

Unicorn--The Herder
The Unicorns of Vistallah--like most unicorns--are horses with a single magical horn coming out of their forehead. But, also like other unicorns, Vistallahn Unicorns behaved foolishly in the past, and lost all their stallions. The remaining mares appealed to Kenal--the Herder--to help them survive. Kenal gave the Unicorn girls the ability to shape-shift into human-form, thus letting them mate with 'stallions' of other races.

While in human-form, Unicorns weigh as much as they do in horse form--that pesky 'conservations of mass' law is strangely persistent in Vistallah--and are thus much larger than typical Humans. Often twice as large, at least. They keep the horn in girl-form, as well as their tail and horse-coloring. Their outfit varies. Sometimes what they wear is related to what they are 'wearing' as a horse, but skilled unicorns cans conjure up an outfit from scratch.

Unicorns are unique among shape-shifters in that they can actively cast magical spells--whereas other shape shifters are limited to simply shape-shifting. Unicorns have limited magical stamina, and often a limited range of spells, but most of them are quite skilled at illusions and minor manipulations. The most common spell is a simple disguise to allow them to pass as regular horses. However, Unicorns also have a unique liability. When bridled, they loose the the ability to resist the will of the one who bridles them. They don't have to cooperate fully, but they can't use any their abilities--magic or shape-shifting--to free themselves...

Unicorns find themselves in a wide range of societal arrangements. Some live as fully domesticated horses, under the control and care of a master. Many have 'arrangements' with others, where they are mostly wild, but perform domestic services in exchange for shelter in the winter. And, of course, some live completely wild.

Like their horse-ancestors, Unicorns are social creatures, and are happiest around others. Whether the others be fellow Unicorns or from other races, the more the merrier. And similarly to Centaurs, Unicorns see nothing wrong with multiple mares being tied to the same stallion. Indeed, many Unicorns actively prefer such arrangements...

Gamerelle--The Brawler
I admit--at this point, I was starting to run out of ideas. Well, running out of ideas that weren't derivative or too close to other ideas I already had. Or I couldn't justify making the creature a giantess, which was the whole point of the setting.

But, I haven't done a turtle yet, and there is strong mythological justification for making a turtle into a giant! So, with that, we have the Gamerelle--a woman who can shape-shift into a giant tortoise.

Alas, that about all the justification I've come up with. I haven't come up with a compelling mindset for them--besides the obvious and vapid 'They are friend to children'! Honestly, if a better idea comes around, I may replace this idea with a new one. But until then, the Gamerelle is the creation of Brok--The Brawler--and is capable of taking a lot of abuse, even if she doesn't actively seek it.

Selkie--The Traveler
In our world, Selkies are mythic women who can become seals. Alas, seals are neither dignified, nor impressive, so no God or Goddess of Vistallah would even consider using them as the basis of one of their creations. But whales, whales are another matter entirely!

Selkies are the creation of Tavas--The Traveler--and are essentially whales who can shed their skin to reveal the guise of a beautiful--if whale-sized--woman. Obviously, Selkies were created to entertain sailors during their long ocean voyages. Selkies are everything sailors desire, beautiful and aggressively affectionate, yet not terribly concerned about commitment. Selkies tend to live in pods of their own kind, socializing with outsiders when they wish to, and retreating to the ocean when they don't. That said, individual Selkies do occasionally fall in love, and will then follow her man to every port he may visit.

While most Selkies are famous for living in the ocean, they can survive in any large body of water. There are populations of Selkies--odd and idiosyncratic populations, but still populations--living in all of the great river systems, all the inland seas, and more than a few of the larger lakes of Vistallah. These freshwater Selkies are often slightly smaller than their ocean-going counterparts, and are much more likely to have partially integrated themselves into the societies that surround them.

Icarra--The Hunter
There is nothing as glorious as going falconing. And the only thing that could make falconing better would be if the sleek, powerful hunter that is literally wrapped around your finger (originally a falconing term!) would be if that huntress were also a sleek and beautiful woman. And with that thought in mind, Royan--The Hunter--created the Icarra. A beautiful woman who can shapeshift into a powerful bird of prey.

Of course, Royan didn't do away with that pesky 'preservation of mass' law, so Icarras change into birds that weigh as much as a woman. And even though as women Icarras are always slender and lithe, that nonetheless translates into a very large bird. Royan didn't mind that, since in the days of old, he was hunting monsters. But for the people of modern Vistallah...Well, to them, a 120 pound falcon is truely a site to behold.

...On a related note, an Icarra's weight in no way hinders her ability to fly. Like the various giants of the setting, she has an innate magic that helps negate the effects of her mass. It doesn't let her change her mass, but it lets her act like she does. Magic works in strange ways...

Icarras are social creatures. They can live alone out in the wild, but they prefer to live as the hunting companion of a man. A worthy man. A man she can be proud of. When she finds such a man, an Icarra will happily join his household and spend the rest of her life under his thumb. (hah! Another falconing term!) And while an Icarra may be proud, they do not aspire to be anything more than a well-liked hunting companion. They never try to displace the woman of the household--indeed, they generally try to befriend to the woman of the household. Which leads to a uniquely Vistallahn relationship...

Blank--the ____
Once again, this is an open spot in the roster that I just haven't filled yet. I have ideas, sure, but I haven't nailed down which idea to use. There room for something cat-like; a Cougar, a Vixen, or a Minx...But I also need something large. Maybe a Wivyrn, if there's room for more than one dragon-like creature in the setting. We'll see...

Werewolf--The Romantic
A dog can be a girl's best friend. Alas, mere friendship is as far as it could go... Until Lorren--The Romantic--got
involved! She gave wolves the ability to shapeshift into well-muscled, handsome, and often men who loyally watch over and protect the maiden they have fallen for.

....So, their actually kind of like the 'Twilight' Werewolf. They don't have the telepathy or imprinting stuff, but their still a lot closer than I ever intended...

Obviously, the Werewolf fits into the one spot on this matrix that is reserved for men. And I'm not sure I like that. Because the way I've structured this, it means that Werewolves go off and find a regular girl, and then make that girl give birth to little Werewolf puppies. And even if those puppies are Human/Elf/Drow until they gain their shapeshifting powers... I dunno. I guess this means women must either choose to have a normal family, or to have a Werewolf family. Because mixing just seems....creepy. She might not be able to tell which is which until....gah.
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