Sunday, December 2, 2007

Godtouched Races: Anthromorphs (cont.) and Theromorphs

With some thought and some very good suggestions by a few people I know, I've decided further on the nature of lycanthropes, which I've named "theromorphs." Calling generic were-creatures "lycanthropes" is in a way no different than naming them werewolfs - the words' roots both literally mean "wolf" and "man," so calling them theromorphs, from words meaning "beast" and "shape" is much more appropriate.

Etymological lesson asides, I have a clarification for yesterday's post before I delve into theromorphs. I realize that I didn't give a good enough physical description for anthromorphs themselves in yesterday's posting.

Anthromorphs are generally human sized, with human body proportions. Their face is normally more animal than human, their ears, faces and teeth being distinctly animalistic. Their body is completely covered in fur, scales, feathers, or what have you. Their hands are human-shaped, though some may have claws, or additional digits to make folding wings possible while maintaining the ability to actually have working fingers. Like harpies, bird and bat anthromorphs will not have wings growing out of their back. This may give them goofy looking arms (in some's opinion) but it prevents them from having six limbs, which I think is silly. Legs, arms and body are distinctly human-proportion as well, with human-like feet, though some may have hooves. An anthromorph having digitigrade (backwards) legs is frowned upon in my own personal tatse, though as always, I cannot prevent those playing the game from redesigning the race to suit their own tastes - either more towards the animal spectrum, or more towards the "catgirl" style of man-animal hybrid.

These physical traits normally set anthromorphs apart from other godtouched races they may resemble. In the case of a harpy or satyr, those races have very human-like faces, and digitigrade legs, while a goat or eagle anthromorph would have an animal head and plantigrade (human shaped) legs. The only exception is that lizard anthromorphs can be confused with lizardmen - a type of humanoid tribal animal with no magical powers. Lizardmen walk in a stooped posture with a quite long tail and digitigrade legs, but torso up, they look very similar to anthromorphs of the lizard persuasion.

Theromorphs on the other hand have hybrid forms that are far more animal than their anthromorph cousins. Their legs and arms are typically animal proportion, with paws, claws, hooves, digitigrade legs and longer tails. Were-birds and bats also do not have working hands on their wings. Their heads are also far more animal-like. While an anthromorph's head is half and half between animal and human, the head of a theromorph hybrid is completely animal.

Theromorphism is also an infection that can be spread, as per the traditional werewolf myths. All of the "naturally civilized" godtouched races can become infected with it, as well. Humans, satyrs, ghrok, orchaein and ardlins are all susceptible. While ghrok are borderline between civilized and uncivilized, Venrisha made a special case for them, considering they're the creation of her major godly competition.

Other godtouched races that are susceptible to the infection due to their civilized nature are the merfolk, naga, centaurs, and valdrex. Having distinctly different forms and skeletal structures than humans make their hybrid transformation exceedingly painful and traumatic for them. As they transform, they will literally lose or grow the required limbs.

Races that are immune to theromorphism are harpies, spirit animals, phoenixes, unicorns, salamanders, medusae (from this point forward, I'll be spelling them correctly), dragons, and sphinxes.

I have not yet decided if dreamlings are susceptible to the disease, considering they are very likely extinct. (Oh, who am I kidding? There are definitely going to be pockets of them still surviving, hiding their true nature. They are likely immune considering their natural shape-changing nature, and that Venrisha possibly did not realize they still exist.)

Even anthromorphs can become infected with theromorphism, which can lead to oddities such as a wolf-werewolf. Or even more strangely, a sheep-werewolf. If an anthromorph gives birth to a child while infected, the child will retain the anthromorph genetic marker, but their personality will be so warped by the theromorphic infection that their "natural" anthromorph form will only be a slightly less bestial version of their hybrid form.

The disease itself manifests as an uncontrollable transformation into a completely feral and hedonistic animal hybrid during the three nights associated with the full moon, though I am considering making the moon a decidedly werewolf trait, and having other theromorph types transform during other regular time periods. This hybrid has no semblance of intelligence or self-control. It will kill, eat, and rampage until the sun rises. It also has inhuman powers of healing, and can only be seriously injured by a specially treated magical or silver weapon.

Those born with the theromorph infection are arguably worse off. They are born as a hybrid, and will be trapped in their hybrid form for much of their life. It requires a great deal of effort to change into the form of their original race, but they can also transform with great effort into a normal-looking animal of their particular theromorphic species.

The only times they can shape-shift without this effort is during the nights of the full moon - or the times that their particular breed of theromorph changes, if I go the route of specialized periods of time.

As can be expected, natural-born theromorphs will have very animalistic behavior, as if their natural soul were warring with the soul and drives of their animal type. Werewolfs will form packs with rigidly controlled social structures, while werebadgers will be ornery and solitary. Sometimes born-theromorphs will resist their natural animal instincts and form tribal groups, however, if their survival depends on it.

Interestingly, theromorphs, infected or naturally born, can mate with one another successfully while in hybrid form, even if their godtouched races are different. This is due to the fact that the true form of a born-theromorph is their hybrid form, and the form of their "natural" race is a magical afterthought. In cases of crossbreeding, the offspring will have the "natural" form of the mother's race.

Theromorphism can mercifully be cured, with various different magical remedies depending on the theromorphic species. Someone who has been infected with the disease will return to normal. However, a theromorphic hybrid who was born that way will revert to a mindless, magicless animal. "Curing" them is worse than killing them, because it destroys their memories and reverts their soul to a pre-sentient or barely-sentient state.

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