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Mythforger

Shapeshifting

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Greetings,

I am fairly new to Runequest and Glorantha, and i love it. 

In my upcoming campaign, i got a player, that badly want to become a shapeshifter. His character is a sartarite Noble of Orlanth. He wants to stay exactly that.

Is there a good way to give him the Change Shape rune spell, or maybe can there be an enchanted object that does so?

In my head, i want to write an adventure for him, where he obtains the power to change shape into different animals. Maybe an ancestor had it before him, and he could gain it back? 

Any suggestions?

 

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Most shapeshifting in Glorantha comes from Hsunchen cults, each Hsunchen bloodline claims descent from ancestral animals, so you have the Telmori Wolfrunners, Rathori Bearwalkers, Basmoli Lion-folk, etc. The Orlanthi version is Yinkin, Orlanth's brother who is a shadowcat. So the easy way is to join the Yinkin cult and get the Rune spells that are in the basic RQG rulebook.

Another option is Eurmal the Trickster, who has the Become (Other Shape) spell, each variant of the spell transforms the user into a different shape. My trickster had Become Pair of Smoking Boots, imagine the look on the other player's face when he got annoyed with me (no idea why) and cast Disruption, and POOM, only a pair of smoking boots remain.

Those are the options available at present, but don't let that limit you if those don't float your boat.

Edited by PhilHibbs
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Heroquesting could be a solution too, but in my mind gaining a shapeshifting power should be an epic heroquest. Sartar convincing the Telmori to be part of the realm by proving them that he was one of them? A wild idea, but a fun one perhaps.

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First, i do not really get the concept of a heroquest. The definitions are kind of vague to me. Then, Eurmal might do shapechange, but does it mix with the character? Would it fit? An Orlanth and Eurmal initiate Noble? Could he be an accepted ruler of a community?  

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I could see Larnstings (GtG 247) possessing the "Become [Other Shape]" runespells. Each spell being a different form he could achieve (Bull, Stormbird, Ram, Umbroli, etc.)

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The cult of Odayla provides similar shape-shifting rune spells as does the Cult of Telmor, but it takes 8 rune points or so to undergo a full shapeshift, which still feels quite broken to me when comparing it to the shape-shifting availability in HQG.

The other (RQ2 canon) shapeshifter is a person touched by Chaos, able to shift shape with a lot less magical effort, but constantly on the lookout for hyper-sensitive Storm Bull initiates or rune lords. The Chaos taint is probably less than that of the Telmori (which started as a gift by Nysalor which then was re-inforced by Talor's curse), but still there, and a magical stigma.

There are a few Orlanth myths about shape-shifting - one about the Hidden Kings, heirs of the last King of the Vingkotlings Rastagar who survived in the Greater Darkness by taking beast shape - wolves, IIRC, hunting other beast-shaped humans hiding in the wilderness. King Heort came from a lineage of Deer shapeshifters, the White or Heortling Deer, and there is a 85% chance or better for every living Heortling to be somehow descended from Heort (though not necessarily on the male lineage, that is supposed to have died out, although some unacknowledged child may have continued the male lineages without anybody knowing about it).

Another notable shape-shifting Orlanthi noble is Greymane from Maniria, and someone from his lineage could be a were-lion throwback.

There are descendants of Sartar among the Telmori, actually the closest royal kin Argrath has according to his declaration to the Colymar. But they wouldn't be worshipers of Orlanth.

 

I think I would go with the RQ2 concept, awakened by a magical incident - possibly in the back-story, but possibly not entirely under the control of the character yet. One of several beast ancestries - bear, alynx, lion, white deer, possibly wolf (possibly a Kodigvari or Telmori inheritance). The Chaos taint will be a problem at times.

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I start getting some Lands of Lore 2 ideas here. Some kind of chaos curse  But it seems, there is no really good way to grant him the power to shift in different animals? Without corrupting his original character concept at least? Is it possible, to bind runespells into objects?

Sorry for all that questions. I really fell in love with Glorantha. The only thing i regret is, that i did not get into it sooner. But some things are not easy to grasp. I want to preserve the worlds lore at my table, while also giving my players what they want. Not easy to do.

The following Idea formed so far: The Character has an ancestor, with a legend about him. He changed into a great best, a bird, and a small rodent, while on an epic quest. The character tries to find out about that, He then is confronted by a strange beeing, that "grants" him a chaos curse of some sorts. It changes him into different creatures from time to time, without his control. A curse, his ancestor had to bear before him. He now has to find a way to control, or maybe get rid of the curse. Maybe by a heroquest? (however that might actually work...)

Does that make sense in gloranthan therms?

Edited by Mythforger
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46 minutes ago, Mythforger said:

The following Idea formed so far: The Character has an ancestor, with a legend about him. He changed into a great best, a bird, and a small rodent, while on an epic quest. The character tries to find out about that, He then is confronted by a strange beeing, that "grants" him a chaos curse of some sorts. It changes him into different creatures from time to time, without his control. A curse, his ancestor had to bear before him. He now has to find a way to control, or maybe get rid of the curse.

I may not be the best judge of "Gloranthan" but it definitely sounds fun! I'd just note that not all curses come from Chaos.

On p.167 of the Glorantha Bestiary, it's noted that Shapechange is an ability some spirits have, which transforms a possessed individual into a particular thing. For example, a deer spirit might transform a human it possesses into a white deer. This, in combination of some form of ancestor worship (Daka Fal), could be a path forward for you. Perhaps an ancestral power (or ancestral curse) allows him to retain control while possessed.

For a complication, perhaps he can't get back to human unless someone else exorcises him.

I can see some form of long-term plan being to hold a variety of animal spirits in Binding Enchantments, and know Control (Animal) Spirit spirit magic spells, commanding them to possess himself. Maybe the mechanic is that if he beats them in Spirit Combat, he takes their form for an hour.

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That sounds absolutely awesome! I need to find a way, to get him posessed by half a dozend mad animal spirits at once, that go absolutely nuts and transform him into... stuff. (Anyone heared of the Wolpertinger?) 

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31 minutes ago, Mythforger said:

That sounds absolutely awesome! I need to find a way, to get him posessed by half a dozend mad animal spirits at once, that go absolutely nuts and transform him into... stuff. (Anyone heared of the Wolpertinger?) 

That sounds cool. What about this?

The PC's father (a tribal king) was obsessed with forcing a shaman to give him shapeshifting powers (by summoning an animal spirit with the shapeshifting power and have him possessed - or have the spirit live inside him, as in covert possession) because he was seceretly in love with a Telmori woman (a hsunchen people who can turn into wolves). The shaman never accepted the deal, as he knew that would cause a lot of trouble since the Telmori woman was married to the leader of Sartar's Telmori guard. The PC's father then annihilated the shamans relatives. Now the shaman has come to curse the son of his enemy: he's sending a lot of animal spirits to possess him. These allow him to shapeshift into different animals. At first, that's cool, but then the troubles start and he has to atone for his father's sin to placate the shaman, by undergoing some really dangerous quest the shaman needs done.

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The two major shapeshifting gods in the Orlanthi pantheon are Eurmal and Heler -- but whereas Eurmali tricksters as player characters can shapeshift fairly easily, it's a rare power among Heler worshippers, and where it's possible it could be limited in many cases to which particular form of Heler (cat, hawk, ram, blue woman, etc) that your particular subcult is devoted to.

Another difference is that trickster changes shape and then back again fairly easily (except when he tricks himself of course), whereas in Heler's myths he usually changes and then stays that way.

There are bound to be a small number of more specialist Heler shapeshifters in Glorantha, so I guess your player's character could be one of those if you really wanted -- though personally I'd limit the ability to whatever is mythically appropriate, so mainly various animal forms rather than say being able to shapeshift into a hatstand or whatever.

Other than that, I suppose that there might be a certain rare type of Illusion Sorcery that might let someone do this ?

The fact that the player is running a Sartari nobleman does somewhat complicate matters of course ...

7 hours ago, Joerg said:

Another notable shape-shifting Orlanthi noble is Greymane from Maniria, and someone from his lineage could be a were-lion throwback.

He's a Helering Rune Master. The Heler cult is fairly different in Maniria than in Sartar, it's the major cult for several of the more inland Manirian clans. FWIW I did do that short "Blue Lion" write up in an old issue of the Tradetalk fanzine, and though it didn't mention Greymane, I did have him in mind when I wrote it.

Good points about the Odayla cult BTW.

Edited by Julian Lord

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5 hours ago, Mythforger said:

That sounds absolutely awesome! I need to find a way, to get him posessed by half a dozend mad animal spirits at once, that go absolutely nuts and transform him into... stuff. (Anyone heared of the Wolpertinger?) 

Sounds fun ... 😎

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The way the rules all come together around the spell descriptions and cult writeups, it sounds like an expected path for some Wind Lords is to also become initiates of Odayla, as there is the shared spell of Bears Strength which MUST be cast on initiates of Odayla. I think it is an easy and awesome path to being a badass bear Orlanthi. 

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One thing that I have used to insert "strange stuff my players want that has no apparent in-cultural support" is having strange stuff happening during the clan initiation rite. Unexpected visits from ancestors, trickster shenanigans, odd ancestral enemies appearing and mistakes/bad choices at critical points.

I usually have a clan-creation myth which is recreated during this initiation. it can be a bit much to start a your Glorantha experience with that level of prep, but you can always just say "it is because of strange things that happened during the clan initiation" and then do a flashback later in the campaign when things are clearer and there is an eventual need to actually know what happend.

Using chaos is not a good idea tho (IMHO) especially if you are new to Glorantha, better to save that for later as it is not a trivial topic and better savoured later.

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For an Orlanthi initiate, I think Eurmal is the most logical, as mentioned above. A new character that could be a great "shapeshifter" (at least in appearance) would be an Eurmali Fox-woman. You could probably do a 2-point Illusory Sight over yourself in fox form and look like a different animal (or object) of similar size.

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You can always rule that in your players history, one of his ancestors was a hero cult that teaches that one rune-spell Become 'other'. Player is initiated into Orthanth (or whatever) AND has membership in the associated Orlanthi hero cult Moon Moon Wolf Brother or whatever.

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