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Polymorphing the shape shifter

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  • Polymorphing the shape shifter

    Let's say an angry werewolf is charging towards the mage, said mage is a life master that decides to turn the firball of destruction into a sheep. But what happens? After all a werewolf is a natural shape shifter who has multiple forms. There are two things here, 1. When a werewolf tries to transform, what happens? Clash of wills? 2. Say he could transform, what happens to the spell? Is it automatically destroyed or is it "fixed" to that form so while he can transform OUT of the form, taking the form again puts him in the mages desired sheep? Maybe equiring a reach to stop the werewolf from going to another form? What are your thoughts?

  • #2
    Clash of Wills was invented for exactly this kind of situation. If (or when, since they can keep trying) the werewolf wins, the spell is still active but its effect is moot because their transformation is lasting and they probably don’t want to turn back into a sheep even if they could.

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    • #3
      Spells can't remove a template or their innate powers. They can turn a wolf into a sheep but they'll still be able to transform.

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      • #4
        Clash of Wills for sure, but if the Mage wins I would say that the Werewolf can still transform, sheep just replaces whatever form they were in when they were hit with the spell for as long as the spell lasts.

        Which could be hilarious if the Mage replaces Gauru form with a sheep and uses an advanced duration. Then every time to Werewolf falls to Kuruth they turn into a sheep. Of course casting such a spell would be a great way to make yourself the target of a Siskur-Dah.

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        • #5
          Clash of Wills, and since only one effect can be active at a time, the spell stops having an effect if the mage loses.
          Shapeshifting back into the first form does not turn the werewolf back into a sheep. The spell isn't connected to any of the werewolf's five natural forms. It tries to impose one form on the werewolf, regardless of what form that werewolf would take.
          The ban on messing with other supernaturals powers doesn't apply here because you're not actually messing with their shapeshifting; you're imposing one form on them and their shapeshifting is trying to change into another form. Winning the CoW prevents shapeshifting just like how winning a CoW for a mind control spell prevents Dominate on a target. In this case the subject is both the user and the target of the competing power.

          For repeated attempts, a cumulative -1 penalty would be fitting.


          Bloodline: The Stygians
          Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
          Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Tessie View Post
            Clash of Wills, and since only one effect can be active at a time, the spell stops having an effect if the mage loses.
            Shapeshifting back into the first form does not turn the werewolf back into a sheep. The spell isn't connected to any of the werewolf's five natural forms. It tries to impose one form on the werewolf, regardless of what form that werewolf would take.
            The ban on messing with other supernaturals powers doesn't apply here because you're not actually messing with their shapeshifting; you're imposing one form on them and their shapeshifting is trying to change into another form. Winning the CoW prevents shapeshifting just like how winning a CoW for a mind control spell prevents Dominate on a target. In this case the subject is both the user and the target of the competing power.

            For repeated attempts, a cumulative -1 penalty would be fitting.
            It's an innate power that gives them different stats. At best all it does is turns their base form into a sheep which means sheep stats get applied before every shapeshift change. Otherwise it just affects that one form. Changing their form to that of a sheep doesn't stop them from shapeshifting or changing forms in general. It's very different to have two different active powers compared to one active and one innate. This would be like a spell that removes attainments such as mage shield from being activated. That's not under the purview of anything short of archmastery.
            Last edited by Epimetheus; 03-04-2021, 07:45 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Epimetheus View Post
              It's an innate power that gives them different stats. At best all it does is turns their base form into a sheep which means sheep stats get applied before every shapeshift change. Otherwise it just affects that one form. Changing their form to that of a sheep doesn't stop them from shapeshifting or changing forms in general. It's very different to have two different active powers compared to one active and one innate. This would be like a spell that removes attainments such as mage shield from being activated. That's not under the purview of anything short of archmastery.
              Shapeshifting the uratha in Hishu (human form for those who don't know) into a sheep means they gets the form of a sheep. If the uratha tries to shift into Gauru, it means they're trying to change from their current form into a new form. That's wholly incompatible with the existing effect of the uratha being in the form of a sheep. While Gauru is mechanically represented by modifying stats (and giving some extra traits), it's still explicitly a new form and not just a modification that can be slapped on the sheep form. So whoever wins the Clash of Wills decided whether the uratha remains a sheep or if they turn into Gauru with their usual stats.
              If the uratha wins the CoW and then changes back into Hishu again, they simply transform into their human form. While the spell is technically active on the uratha, the effect has been overruled by them taking a different form and it does not just suddenly reappear because the werewolf is doing something that would overrule it once again. There also is no reason to think that only one form would be the subject of the spell rather than the entire werewolf, and honestly that would be a modification of the uratha's shapeshifting ability.

              It's not a modification of the shapeshifting power of werewolves. A modification would be something like changing what a specific form would be if the werewolf turns into that form, or changing specific traits or advantages gained from forms, adding whole new forms, or locking away some forms altogether. In fact, the only examples I can find are adding/removing dots from supernatural traits, and removing a template completely.
              What a sheep transformation spell does is imposing a specific form on the subject, which will come into conflict with their shapeshifting abilities, but does not actually modify how it works.
              Whether an ability is innate or bought with XP doesn't matter. And yes, spells can directly come into conflict with Attainments. Take two Death mages. The first tries to remove the soul of the second mage who has the Inviolate Soul Attainment which is supposed to prevent that exact thing from happening. Guess what happens. A Clash of Wills.
              Mage Armour could also potentially be affected. Anything which removes a mage's Defense while that mage has a Defense boosting Mage Armour active could, depending on exactly how the Defense is removed, face a Clash of Wills.


              Now that I think about it, a werewolf in Hishu turned into a sheep might possibly use their shapeshifting to turn from sheep into Hishu again without having to take a different form first. But I'm not sure. Werewolf shapeshifting isn't purely physical since they grant supernatural abilities as well. Since those would not be removed by the Life mage turning them into a sheep, they're still partly in their original form; just not on a physical level.


              Bloodline: The Stygians
              Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
              Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Epimetheus View Post
                It's an innate power that gives them different stats. At best all it does is turns their base form into a sheep which means sheep stats get applied before every shapeshift change. Otherwise it just affects that one form. Changing their form to that of a sheep doesn't stop them from shapeshifting or changing forms in general. It's very different to have two different active powers compared to one active and one innate. This would be like a spell that removes attainments such as mage shield from being activated. That's not under the purview of anything short of archmastery.
                I disagree. The fact that neither ability specifies how they might interact with other shapeshifting powers suggests to me that you should fall back on a Clash of Wills to resolve the conflict.

                It is certainly conceivable for an Adept of Life to cast a spell that would only transform one of an Uratha’s forms. But on the flip side, it’s equally conceivable that such a mage could also improvise a spell to try and prevent a target from shapeshifting at all. If a mage attempts to turn a werewolf into a sheep, it’s a safe bet that the mage’s intention was to forcefully overwrite the werewolf’s physical shape, full stop. The werewolf, can, of course, attempt to short circuit the mages spell by using his natural shapeshifting, but at this point there is a clear conflict between the two abilities, hence a Clash.

                Just because a power is “innate” doesn’t mean it automatically trumps “active” powers. (Besides which, I don’t think innate and active are necessarily exclusive.) Spells only can’t mess with Attainments because that’s a specific interaction of how Supernal magic works (like Attainments can’t be counter-spelled). For one easy counter example, the Spirit 2 Attainment let’s the mage see spirits in twilight, that doesn’t mean a spirit can’t use an “active” power to attempt to hide itself.

                As an aside, if the Uratha is in a death rage, I think being turned into a sheep would qualify as an attempt to “influence, intimidate, or otherwise change the Uratha’s course of action by mundane or supernatural means”, thus qualifying them for the additional 2x Primal Urge bonus to the Clash roll.
                Last edited by Scriptorian; 03-04-2021, 08:42 PM.


                The longer I study science the more I am convinced that it is functionally indistinguishable from what our ancestors would refer to as sorcery. And I would know, being both scientist and sorcerer.

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                • #9
                  I do want to add that what I've argued is my position on the rules as written. It's still fully possible to just say screw it and no-sell the sheep transformation if you think it's thematically inappropriate because you feel their forms are too fundamental to their werewolf nature, or even extend how much a mage can mess with other splats because you feel the limits on their reality editing powers are too limiting or arbitrary. At the end of the day, do what you think works best for your table.


                  Bloodline: The Stygians
                  Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                  Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                  • #10
                    Minor observation that Shapechanging is Duration-primary and Withstood by Stamina and literally every form that isn't Hishu gives you at least one extra dot of Stamina; likewise, every form that inflicts Lunacy gives you at least one extra dot of Size, and anything above Size 5 needs to dedicate spell factors to Scale to affect a target. A spell continues to act on its target within the scope of its modified Potency until its Duration runs out, so shapes that are bigger than the spell's Scale or have Stamina that matches or beats its Potency keep their forms while others let the spell do what it does.

                    A Master of Life attempting to transform a Gauru form werewolf into a sheep is pumping at least six penalty dice into Potency and either a Reach or another four penalty dice into Scale, and depending on their plans they either have about a minute to figure out what to do with the sheepwolf or they've dumped another Reach into Advanced Duration. Assuming this stop-the-raging-monster response is not being done as part of a long-term plan that allows for a casting time of several minutes, that's another Reach for Instant Casting, and unless they're trying their luck with an Aimed Spell against a target that gets its full Defense against all ranged attacks they'll very likely be putting another Reach into Sensory Range.

                    Shapechanging is an Adept spell. A Master casts it with two free Reach and has a base dicepool between ten and fifteen. Unless they're prepared to eat substantial penalties and take significant risk to cast the spell without error, they're rolling at least three Paradox dice before Mana is spent; some of this threat goes away if the Master in question has codified themselves a Rote for Shapechanging, given the advantages of using your own Rotes, but that's a more specific circumstance.

                    Originally posted by Scriptorian View Post
                    As an aside, if the Uratha is in a death rage, I think being turned into a sheep would qualify as an attempt to “influence, intimidate, or otherwise change the Uratha’s course of action by mundane or supernatural means”, thus qualifying them for the additional 2x Primal Urge bonus to the Clash roll.
                    The twice-Primal-Urge effect is a penalty applied to rolls, not a boost to the werewolf's actual Primal Urge rating.


                    Resident Lore-Hound
                    Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                      The twice-Primal-Urge effect is a penalty applied to rolls, not a boost to the werewolf's actual Primal Urge rating.
                      Oof. Whenever protection against supernatural effects starts messing with dice pools or successes rolled instead of resolving through CoW, mages tend to get screwed over fast. A 2*PU penalty to their spellcasting roll on top of all the spell factors is not nice.


                      Bloodline: The Stygians
                      Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                      Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                      • #12
                        Not to mention that they can pull something like Fog of War if you are throwing anything ranged or do Hit and Run.

                        Best option is simply to realm hop or fly out of reach and vanish for a bit. Twilight may help you here but that has a lot of *s attached to it.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tessie View Post

                          Oof. Whenever protection against supernatural effects starts messing with dice pools or successes rolled instead of resolving through CoW, mages tend to get screwed over fast. A 2*PU penalty to their spellcasting roll on top of all the spell factors is not nice.

                          The spell defines the target's form. Whether or not that is natural or proper isn't a factor, other than the fact that the change isn't Lasting. That's just how mage magic works: It imposes a change in reality. A mage spell doesn't target their shapeshifting ability per se, it's simply a definition of "This guy is a sheep". Their ability to shapeshift isn't removed, but if they use it, they have to override that power. (In fact, one interpretation is that it doesn't even conflict, it simply changes their form underneath the spell. I hew to the Clash approach, myself.)

                          Werewolves get a handful of things that they are supposed to be good at and so get some pretty intense bonuses. Some Gifts grant automatic successes on certain clashes, for example, and other things give them gigantic piles of dice. Most of those benefits are not universal, but a few are, such as the rage related ones.

                          Because of how Supernal Magic is defined, it's almost always going to prompt a Clash against attempts to thwart a spell unless the ability is particularly clever and can do so without fighting it, but other splats generally have an imposing edge in their fields. That's mostly by design, though I suspect a bit of hypercorrection.


                          Grump, grouse, and/or gripe.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Scriptorian View Post
                            As an aside, if the Uratha is in a death rage, I think being turned into a sheep would qualify as an attempt to “influence, intimidate, or otherwise change the Uratha’s course of action by mundane or supernatural means”, thus qualifying them for the additional 2x Primal Urge bonus to the Clash roll.
                            Nah, it’s perfectly possible for a sheep to be in a blind murderous rage.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Scriptorian View Post

                              I disagree. The fact that neither ability specifies how they might interact with other shapeshifting powers suggests to me that you should fall back on a Clash of Wills to resolve the conflict.

                              It is certainly conceivable for an Adept of Life to cast a spell that would only transform one of an Uratha’s forms. But on the flip side, it’s equally conceivable that such a mage could also improvise a spell to try and prevent a target from shapeshifting at all. If a mage attempts to turn a werewolf into a sheep, it’s a safe bet that the mage’s intention was to forcefully overwrite the werewolf’s physical shape, full stop. The werewolf, can, of course, attempt to short circuit the mages spell by using his natural shapeshifting, but at this point there is a clear conflict between the two abilities, hence a Clash.

                              Just because a power is “innate” doesn’t mean it automatically trumps “active” powers. (Besides which, I don’t think innate and active are necessarily exclusive.) Spells only can’t mess with Attainments because that’s a specific interaction of how Supernal magic works (like Attainments can’t be counter-spelled). For one easy counter example, the Spirit 2 Attainment let’s the mage see spirits in twilight, that doesn’t mean a spirit can’t use an “active” power to attempt to hide itself.

                              As an aside, if the Uratha is in a death rage, I think being turned into a sheep would qualify as an attempt to “influence, intimidate, or otherwise change the Uratha’s course of action by mundane or supernatural means”, thus qualifying them for the additional 2x Primal Urge bonus to the Clash roll.
                              I disagree. A spirit using an active power to hide itself isn't the same as trying to bar someone from using an innate ability. This just leads to being able to stop someone from casting magic. Modifying or altering a template so that it can't do something is beyond the purview of normal magic. It doesn't matter how you cut it or how you try to wiggle around it. This isn't something magic can do without being 8 dots.

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