Uncle Jimbo's Bug Huntin' Range

High character
High concept
High violence

Bug Huntin' Home


An alien species encountered in some regions of the Stellar Ring and Open Space can change the shape and colour of its body to copy the appearance of a person of another species, even altering its neural pathways to some extent. The species can exist in sizable groups without detection, but those few who know of their existence have come to call them shapeshifters.

Shapeshifters have a divergent and imitative style of cognition. Rather than form complex cultures of their own, they often maintain stable identities and routines acquired from other beings for extended periods, even when a household or settlement has been entirely replaced by the species.

An unconscious or dead shapeshifter retains the shape it had last assumed, but its blood is milky white and medical examination reveals other obvious anatomical differences.

Lifespans of shapeshifters are obscure to other species, as the creatures change their identities or pass identities to younger individuals, but can reach 100 to 150 years. They do not benefit from anti-aging treatments developed for other species, though in theory could apply equivalent technologies for their own biology. Older shapeshifters gradually lose the ability to form strong colours and smooth flesh, showing wrinkles and more greyish tones in skin and hair of their current form.

In order to reproduce, an adult shapeshifter collects genetic and informational potential within itself over one to many years. Any two shapeshifters can exchange gametes or a shapeshifter also can produce an offspring by itself. One or both partners then undergo physical development of a child over about two weeks, although a shapeshifter mimicking the form of a female of another species might take on physical changes over a much longer period to simulate a pregnancy. Shapeshifters cannot reproduce with other species, so one living as a male partner to a female of a different species will not generate children. Shapeshifter young take a body shape determined by the gestating parent until they gain control of their form around five years of age.

Ability Scores

Between Strength, Dexterity, Constitution and Intelligence, a shapeshifter has the same low to average score for three attributes and a score 2 points higher for the fourth. It assigns its higher ability score by a minor physical change (see below). Changes in Intelligence by this means do not add or reduce skill points. Its Willpower and Personality remain the same until altered by experience or age.

A typical shapeshifter of Ordinary ability has three scores of 9 and one score of 11 in its mutable ability scores and maintains either scores of 10 and 12, or 11 in each, between Willpower and Personality. A Marginal individual has scores 1 point lower, a Good character scores 1 point higher, or an Amazing character scores 2 points higher. Exceptional shapeshifters can distribute ability scores differently, between the following limits.

STR 8-13
DEX 8-13
CON 8-13
INT 8-13
WIL 8-14
PER 8-14

Free Broad Skills

STR Athletics
CON Stamina
INT Knowledge
WIL Awareness
PER Interaction

Species Abilities

Shapeshifters do not use professions. Marginal shapeshifters have no adjustment to their Action Check scores while Ordinary or better characters add +2 to Action Checks.

Constant mind reading: A shapeshifter with the ESP broad skill can use the mind reading specialty without spending PSP. A shapeshifter who has any other Mindwalking skills than ESP-mind reading has PSPs equal to its Will score.

Minor physical change: With about an hour of moderate physical concentration, the shapeshifter's flesh changes in appearance and colour to copy an individual it has committed to memory (see below) and it can change the ability score assigned as higher within STR, DEX, CON and INT. A shapeshifter easily takes humanoid forms within a middling range of sizes, such as human, fraal or mechalus. It has a stable body mass of typically 70 to 100kg although its form can compress or expand to some degree uggesting a wider range. A minor physical change does not take on abilities of other species.

Major physical change: After gorging on protein and energy-rich foods and entering a torpor for half a day to several days, a shapeshifter can lose mass to as low as 40kg or gain mass up to about 200kg, can absorb and create functional limbs and change its posture, such as becoming a quadruped, swimmer or a more exotic body plan such as that of a kadaran, or can reverse a previous change to return to humanoid form. A major physical change can acquire species abilities based on physical form such as mechalus computer operation bonus, sesheyan flight, sesheyan night vision and light sensitivity, t'sa action check bonus, t'sa body armour, weren superior durability, weren natural weapons, weren camouflage, or abilities of other species as specified by the GM. A shapeshifter that has spent the necessary skill points to use cyber-gear can assimilate new items or divest itself of cyber-gear as a major physical change.

Shapeshifters generally require a model for appearance and physical abilities. Besides shapes copied from other species, any shapeshifter can take a survivor form of a lean humanoid with de-emphasised facial features (as a minor physical change, assigning its highest mutable ability score to Dexterity), or lineages of shapeshifters can develop specialised forms combining traits of species within their common experience. One such is a killer form, massive and long-limbed without body hair, showing the enhanced durability and claws of weren and the enhanced speed of t'sa. Other specialised forms might have wings, body armour and so on.

Assimilate skills: A shapeshifter using ESP can study another creature over at least 6 hours of close contact. Often the creature restrains its subject, in preparation to kill and eat it when complete, but the assimilation process is not harmful in itself and can be applied voluntarily, such as to transmit knowledge of forms between two shapeshifters. The shapeshifter must develop acquired knowledge either using accumulated information potential (saved achievement points) or by reassigning ranks of specialty skills it possesses at a rate of 2 Skill Points per rank, but cannot reduce an existing specialty below 1 rank or lose a broad skill in this fashion. It first acquires an impression of the subject's physical form and a superficial understanding of its life as a new Knowledge skill, memory (specific individual) at 1 Skill Point for rank 1. By taking a further 3 hours per extra skill point spent, the shapeshifter can increase its memory skill rank up to a maximum of the subject's highest skill rank, at the normal cost for higher ranks of a skill of cost 1, or can acquire broad skills and specialty skills (including languages) up to the skill rank that the subject knows, at a cost of 3 Skill Points for a broad skill or as base cost 1 for a specialty skill.

A Marginal shapeshifter typically has enough accumulated information potential (achievement points) when encountered to assimilate skills once, applying up to 4 Skill Points of learning.

Rare individuals without ESP suffer severe disadvantages to the normal actions of shapeshifters' existence. They cannot gain new forms unless imparted with the information by some means, such as another shapeshifter using Telepathy, or more recently, cybernetic assistance.