Shape change

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Shape change

Postby Style » Mon Dec 01, 2008 3:03 pm

As most of you know, I'm using the Savage Worlds system for my Conan game, and the Savage Worlds Kane setting for my magic rules. With a sorcerer in the party again, I've recently started looking closer at the spells available.

Shape change is a spell in the Savage Worlds Kane setting. It allows you to morph into natural animals. At low levels, you're limited to smaller animals: birds, dogs and the like. At higher levels, larger animals: tigers, elephants, etc. In game play, the spell is great for utility, but not for combat. Human form is typically better in combat than small animals, and at higher levels, there are more effective spell options than being a tiger. Meanwhile, things like scouting and spying (a bird or mouse), tracking by scent (blood hound), flying (bird) and swimming (fish) are all highly useful. Being a mouse or snake is also great for getting in to places without picking locks or breaking down doors.

Having said all of that, how do you feel about this shape change spell for a Conan game? Some how it doesn't feel right to me. If a sorcerer or shaman wants to use animals for scouting/spying/tracking, then he uses his magics to ask/command them to do it. He doesn't turn into one himself. If a sorcerer needs better movement, then he needs to summon a demonic mount (and deal with the accompanying corruption save). This is my view of how these things should be handled. Polymorphing into a hawk just feels out of place. It feels like d&d to me.

So am I off base in my thinking? After all, in the Scarlet Citadel, Pelias does transform into a giant bird...
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Postby Da Boss » Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:16 pm

I would have thought it could fit in well - especially if there was a chance of not coming back altogether human - either in mind or body - I have always thought there was an inherient risk in using magic in Conan stories - its usually not a good idea and sometimes it goes badly wrong.

Probably go well with pictish shamans? :?:
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Postby B_Steele » Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:42 pm

I was going to say that it could be a very neat and risky ritual that is performed by a deep and dark Black Kingdoms tribe, turning their most loyal tribal warriors into Panthers and such.

Maybe the ritual only lasts until sunrise...or perhaps it is a one-way shift that only the truly zealous will undertake?

I dunno...I think it could fit well enough if properly "fluffed" up.

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Re: Shape change

Postby thulsa » Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:52 pm

Style wrote:how do you feel about this shape change spell for a Conan game? Some how it doesn't feel right to me.
Sounds like you are not aware that Shape-Shifter is a spell in the Oriental Magic style in the Conan RPG?

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Postby Style » Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:45 pm

thulsa wrote:
Style wrote:how do you feel about this shape change spell for a Conan game? Some how it doesn't feel right to me.
Sounds like you are not aware that Shape-Shifter is a spell in the Oriental Magic style in the Conan RPG?

- thulsa
As a matter of fact, I wasn't.

Just looking it over, and it appears to be a spell you don't use often (10pp, 500sp material component). So anyone with this spell wouldn't be using it all the time, it wouldn't be their M.O. That helps. I'm feeling better about it in that light.

Did it ever happen in any Howard Conan tales? Pelias did turn into a giant bird, but that wasn't exactly a natural animal.
Da Boss wrote:I would have thought it could fit in well - especially if there was a chance of not coming back altogether human - either in mind or body -
That's pretty cool. In Savage Worlds magic doesn't auto succeed. You have to make a skill check. On failure (and even on some successes), you have to deal with backlash from the magic energy. I may have to go off the table next time their is backlash while attempting to shapeshift. :)
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Postby DaveNC » Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:18 am

I think it would definately fit with Pictish or Black Kingdom Shamans. There would have to be some kind of ritualistic sacrifice of the animal involved and the effect would only last until sunrise. I also like the idea of the possibility of not fully "coming back" entirely human.
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Postby kintire » Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:25 am

Now he had reached the head of the stairs, and the Master's face floated in the steely haze before him, and a strange fear shadowed the inscrutable eyes. Conan waded through the mist as through a surf, and his knife lunged upward like a live thing. The keen point ripped the Master's robe as he sprang back with a low cry. Then before Conan's gaze, the wizard vanished--simply disappeared like a burst bubble, and something long and undulating darted up one of the smaller stairs that led up to left and right from the landing.

Conan charged after it, up the left-hand stair, uncertain as to just what he had seen whip up those steps, but in a berserk mood that drowned the nausea and horror whispering at the back of his consciousness.

He plunged out into a broad corridor whose uncarpeted floor and untapestried walls were of polished jade, and something long and swift whisked down the corridor ahead of him, and into a curtained door. From within the chamber rose a scream of urgent terror. The sound lent wings to Conan's flying feet and he hurtled through the curtains and headlong into the chamber within.

A frightful scene met his glare. Yasmina cowered on the farther edge of a velvet-covered dais, screaming her loathing and horror, an arm lifted as if to ward off attack, while before her swayed the hideous head of a giant serpent, shining neck arching up from dark-gleaming coils. With a choked cry Conan threw his knife.

Instantly the monster whirled and was upon him like the rush of wind through tall grass. The long knife quivered in its neck, point and a foot of blade showing on one side, and the hilt and a hand's-breadth of steel on the other, but it only seemed to madden the giant reptile. The great head towered above the man who faced it, and then darted down, the venom-dripping jaws gaping wide. But Conan had plucked a dagger from his girdle and he stabbed upward as the head dipped down. The point tore through the lower jaw and transfixed the upper, pinning them together. The next instant the great trunk had looped itself about the Cimmerian as the snake, unable to use its fangs, employed its remaining form of attack.

Conan's left arm was pinioned among the bone-crushing folds, but his right was free. Bracing his feet to keep upright, he stretched forth his hand, gripped the hilt of the long knife jutting from the serpent's neck, and tore it free in a shower of blood. As if divining his purpose with more than bestial intelligence, the snake writhed and knotted, seeking to cast its loops about his right arm. But with the speed of light the long knife rose and fell, shearing halfway through the reptile's giant trunk.

Before he could strike again, the great pliant loops fell from him and the monster dragged itself across the floor, gushing blood from its ghastly wounds. Conan sprang after it, knife lifted, but his vicious swipe cut empty air as the serpent writhed away from him and struck its blunt nose against a paneled screen of sandalwood. One of the panels gave inward and the long, bleeding barrel whipped through it and was gone.

Conan instantly attacked the screen. A few blows rent it apart and he glared into the dim alcove beyond. No horrific shape coiled there; there was blood on the marble floor, and bloody tracks led to a cryptic arched door. Those tracks were of a man's bare feet . . .
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Postby Spectator » Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:59 am

In response to a previous post about it being more prevalent in nature based societies, eg: the Black Kingdoms and Picts/ Ligureans, I have house ruled it into Nature magic and taken away the 500sp requirement. I have limited the size from tiny (mouse) to large (Bear), there will be no sorcerors turning into HUGE elephants and going on an orc stomp a' la Return of the King.
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Postby Style » Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:19 pm

Spectator wrote:In response to a previous post about it being more prevalent in nature based societies, eg: the Black Kingdoms and Picts/ Ligureans, I have house ruled it into Nature magic and taken away the 500sp requirement. I have limited the size from tiny (mouse) to large (Bear), there will be no sorcerors turning into HUGE elephants and going on an orc stomp a' la Return of the King.
I was thinking I might like it better on oriental magic, as it helps to make the shamans of hyboria seem less like D&D druids.

I also like the limiting factor of the material component. Let's face it, being able to fly, i.e. morphing into a bird, is so damn useful that sorcerers will be doing it constantly if there are no limiting factors. If I'm going to allow this spell, I want it to be special and awe-inspiring, not a utility knife.

Just my opinion, of course.
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Postby Spectator » Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:00 pm

The only problem with it in being in Oriental Magic is that it never seemed to fit in well with it and #2 I don't see Black Shamans and Pict Witchdoctors trekking across the thurian continent to Khitai to learn it.

I agree the limitations on the cost are a good idea and it should not be a spell used daily or even weekly.
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Postby Style » Sat Dec 06, 2008 3:26 am

Spectator wrote:The only problem with it in being in Oriental Magic is that it never seemed to fit in well with it
For some reason in my mind it does. I have no explanation why. Image
Spectator wrote: and #2 I don't see Black Shamans and Pict Witchdoctors trekking across the thurian continent to Khitai to learn it.
I don't have a problem with shamen and witchdoctors not having it. And if you do want them to have it, couldn't they simply learn it from a demon? Summoning demons to learn their secrets is something I can see them doing.
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Postby Spectator » Sat Dec 06, 2008 10:05 pm

Great point about the Demonic learning.
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Postby LucaCherstich » Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:01 pm

In any case there already a shape-changing spell in Nature Magic!
See "Secrets of Skelos" page 33: "Become Beast".
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Postby Spectator » Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:32 am

Yeah luca I'm still using first edition! I did not know about the spell.

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