Name: Irrice Pholcid
Age: 19 years
Race: Shifter: Cellar Spider Shifter
Human Form: Irrice is nearly always found in human form. He prides himself on his long black hair, typically kept in a series of intricate braids. He attempts to use this as a diversion for what he views as the general awkwardness of the rest of his physical being. Irrice isn’t short, per se, but at 5’5” he certainly isn’t as tall as many of the human men and elves he lives amongst. He finds himself constantly fixated on his limbs. They are long, lanky, as are his fingers. This is not immediately obvious to anyone striking up conversation with Irrice, but is certainly a physical quality that he dislikes about himself. His skin is dark and dull, appearing almost charcoal in dim light. His irises are especially dark, as well, often blending in to his large pupils.
Spider Form: Irrice, as a citizen of Marn, is not legally allowed to use magic in order to shift from a human into a spider. As such, he has never actually seen himself in this form. He is hopeful that he will one day live in a time and place where he will be able to learn about this side of himself. That being said, he is aware that his is a descendant of cellar spiders and thus imagines himself with six to eight eyes, a grey or black body, and extremely long eight legs.
Half Form: In this form, Irrice maintains most of his humanity. His canines grow in length and become slightly more supple, mirroring spider fangs. He loses the whites of his eyes completely and they grow in size, forming large black disks on his face. A second set of smaller eyes grow near the corner of the first set. Spider legs will also begin to grow from Irrice’s upper torso in this form, four legs in the place where wings might grow on another species. This causes him to hunch forward. These legs are functional, or would be if Irrice had more practice using them.
A simple gnome-made gun (gunpowder and bullets included): He finds that it works with relative reliability, provided he sing it to sleep once per day. It refuses to fire bullets for six hours after it has been sung to sleep. When in use, it skips every sixth shot Irrice attempts to fire.
A leather-bound notebook and writing utensils: Originally purchased as a journal, Irrice finds that he tends to do more note-taking here.
Simple travel equipment: A bedroll, rations, flint for making fire, basic first-aid.
Powers or Strengths:
Literate: Irrice’s mother made sure that her children became literate in common-tongue. Now the wide world of reading and writing are available to Irrice. He one day hopes to learn more languages.
Gunmanship: Although he is no master of this art, if Irrice shoots at something he will more likely than not hit it. He also has a working knowledge of how to reload standard guns with relative speed. It might take him a few minutes to figure out a more complicated gun. This skill isn’t so much innate as it is practiced. Irrice truly likes guns. He is fascinated with the technology, and will inspect any gun he can get his hands on. He has not yet been fortunate enough to encounter a gun-building gnome, but eagerly awaits the opportunity to see a gun being constructed (or deconstructed, safely).
Sneaky: Irrice chalks this up to his good ol’ spider heritage. He is quiet when he tries, light on his feet. He has a sense for finding dark places where he isn’t likely to be spotted and finds that he fits well into small spaces. He mostly uses this ability to navigate himself out of awkward social situations.
Endearing: Irrice is terribly charming. He comes across as a nerdy goofball. He is clumsy when he isn’t trying, and a bit awkward in conversation. He trips over his words frequently. It comes across as a bit pathetic, which makes it harder for people to wish the kid any actual harm. Irrice is aware that he is not the most socially apt (although, for what it’s worth, he never stops trying to make friends) and attempts to make up for it with his other abilities (namely reading and gunmanship. He does not like coming across as utterly helpless).
Half-Form Exclusive Powers:
Climbing walls: In his half-form, Irrice is able to use his spider legs to scale walls. However, as he rarely uses this form, his spider legs are currently fairly weak. They are able to climb, at most, a two-story building. They can hold his weight when standing still on a wall or ceiling for five to ten minutes before giving out.
Vibration-Sensing: Irrice utilizes the tiny hairs on his spider legs to sense vibrations in the ground. He is able to detect movement up to thirty feet away, and accurately locate movement fifteen feet away. He is only able to use this ability if specifically concentrating on it, and will become overwhelmed and unable to detect anything if there is too much movement (say, in a crowded market).
Weaknesses and Flaws:
Eyesight: Stemming from his spider lineage, Irrice sees extremely poorly in bright light. Direct sun exposure for a lengthy amount of time will cause permanent damage to his retinas. This could eventually lead to permanent blindness. If he must go out during the day, he will typically wrap his eyes in some sort of light cloth. This allows him to see basic shadows and outlines. It is important to note that this does not give Irrice exceptional vision at night. When it is dark, Irrice simply gains normal human vision.
Asthma: Irrice is asthmatic. Not so severely so that he fears dying from walking up a flight of stairs, but definitely enough to make running at a steady pace for five or so minutes nearly impossible. Because of this, Irrice has never been able to become involved with more physical pursuits such as swordsmanship or martial arts. It would not be feasible for him to land a physically demanding career.
Skittish: Irrice has anxiety. It leaves him afraid a great deal of the time. He doesn’t like crowds, he doesn’t like being out during the day (he can’t see in the sun, after all), he doesn’t like people openly carrying weapons. If his anxiety flares up, Irrice’s first instinct is to run and hide. This can prove helpful in times of true danger. Irrice rarely finds himself in true danger, though. He often finds himself with sweaty palms in conversation, desperately seeking an out. This isn’t to say he doesn’t have friends. Irrice is open about his interests and loves a good one-on-one conversation. He just happens to do poorly in groups, or with strangers. He is unlikely to well in battle, seeking to run instead despite the fact that he is not fast and likely wouldn’t get far. He jumps at loud noises and, somewhat ironically, has never quite gotten used to the sound of gunfire. Irrice will never be a hero.
Afraid of Magic/Not in Control of his Magic: Irrice, thanks to his mother, is an unregistered magical creature living in a city where magic is outlawed. He is absolutely terrified that someone will find out he or his family are shifters. Because of this, he tries desperately to ignore the shifter in him. He refuses to shift fully into a spider, and tries his best not to shift into his half-form. As he grows into adulthood, this seems to have negative consequences on his psyche. He feels more and more an itching in the back of his brain, like his spider half is begging to be let out. Recently, he has found himself waking up from nightmares in his half form, or shifting into his half form when he becomes particularly frightened by something. He is doing his damnedest to repress this for fear of legal consequence.
Obsessive: When Irrice finds something that interests him, he won’t give up on it. He has a bad habit of neglecting other tasks (work, friends, family, chores) in order to pay attention to a given hobby that has sparked his intrigue. He has a hard time shutting up about his interests, as well. This may, at first, seem endearing to others. However, you can only hear Irrice tell you so many times about this one particular gnome made gun that he just wishes he could get his hands on before you’re begging him to shut up.
Irrice’s mother didn’t so much immigrate to Marn so much as crawl up through the woodworks in her spider form and set up camp there. She’s an extravagant woman who enjoys the finer things life has to offer and, to her credit, worked her ass off to buy a home large enough to comfortably house herself and her son. Irrice has heard her say about a thousand times, “Phyrra Pholcid didn’t live as a spider for three years just to end up a peasant once she reached a human city”.
When Irrice asks about his father, Phyrra tells her son that she bit his head off after conceiving him. Irrice has never been able to discern whether or not she’s kidding. He figures that any man that abandoned Phyrra is as good as dead if she ever happened upon him again, anyway. He tries not to think about it too much and thanks the gods that he turned out attracted to men, so he’d never have to find out about female reproductive cannibalism firsthand.
Phyrra, having not come into the city through normal means, never registered herself or her family as shifters. She lives in deep fear that she would be arrested (or worse) should authority figures find out she has been keeping this magical secret for so many years.
The first time Irrice morphed out of his human form, he was ecstatic. He knew his mother could do it, of course, but at seven years old he’d shown no inclination towards magic and was terrified he’d missed out on the trait himself. One day, as he stared his too-long arms down in a mirror, he noticed himself shifting. He never made it to full-spider, but he was delighted at the half-form nonetheless. He stretched out his spider legs, blinked his four eyes in unison, giggled with glee.
Phyrra was much less pleased. Her gasp was enough to stop Irrice dead in his tracks. She blew out all the candles in the house, desperate to hide him from anyone who might happen to peek through a window or crack in the door. She demanded he change back. He didn’t know how. She tried to teach him for hours, well into the night until he fell fast asleep in her embrace. He awoke to hear her cooing, softly, “I wanted you to be human, Irrice. So badly I wanted it for you. You’ve always been my good little boy. They’ll find out about me now, for sure. Please, Irrice, please don’t be the reason the Guardsmen take me”. That break in her usually strong tone stirred something in him, something dark and sad. He was responsible for his mother’s safety. It was enough motivation to help him shift back into his human form and to stay that way for another ten years.
Phyrra watched him more closely after this incident. Irrice had always been on a tight leash, unable to play too long with other children especially in the daylight, but coming into his shifter abilities caused Phyrra to pull him from his human friendships almost entirely. This is when his studies began. She taught him how to read and gifted him mathematics books. By thirteen, he was relatively well-learned for a child in their part of town. His interests were few and dealt almost entirely with academic subjects of Phyrra’s choosing.
Of course, Irrice would only remain indoors for so long. He ached for companionship as a teen. He’d proven himself to Phyrra by then, too, being in such good control of his shifting for so many years. She began with small tests- going to the market during the day alone, chatting with the neighbor’s children on the street.
At sixteen, Irrice was allowed to get a job. He worked as a bookkeeper for a local shop owner. As much as Irrice had failed to get out during his childhood, Phyrra was well known. To this day she has refused to disclose her line of work to her son, nor has she explained her network of acquaintances throughout Marn. Irrice highly suspects she is involved with sex work, but would never dare to confront her on the matter. Regardless, this shop owner owed Phyrra a favor, and the favor was to give Irrice a job.
Irrice loathed his work. Bookkeeping is dull. Still, he found excitement in chatting with customers, and with the shop keep himself. It was here that Irrice came across his first (and only) gun. He’d never been much interested in weapons until the gnome technology had landed itself in front of him at the shop. He was obsessed with the build, the weight, the design, the mechanics. The shop keep had let him use only two weeks’ wage to take it home. Irrice spent the following two years becoming intimately familiar with his gun, intent on becoming an expert in something.
It was after the discovery of perhaps his first individual interest that he realized life with Phyrra was, maybe, stifling. She loved him, he knew, but he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life living in her home, working the dead-end job she wanted him to work. In his teen-rebellion, Irrice dared to mention something akin to this to Phyrra. At first, he read her response as anger. He realized soon after it was fear. “You can’t leave, Irrice. I won’t let you run like I let your sister run”.
Irrice had not known that he had a sister. Phyrra told him that she had been born when Phyrra still lived in hidden caves and underground caverns with others of their kind. His sister, Idra, had grown tired of this. She wanted desperately to see the sun (which was stupid, Phyrra commented, because our eyes can’t adjust to light), to see humans, and refused to listen to Phyrra when she warned of the dangers of the surface. Idra ran away, and Phyrra never heard from her again. When she’d become pregnant with Irrice, she was overwhelmed with fear that he, too, would grow up to hate the caves. She wanted a better, brighter life for him. She came to the surface. And even after all this, after all she left behind for him, Irrice wasn’t satisfied.
Irrice knows this is the moment that tore his duality in two. Half of him, his human half, was overcome with guilt. Phyrra has sacrificed so much and he should respect that. But there’s an itching in the back of his mind telling him he needs more. He began to dream of his sister, of far off places, of dark corners of Marn he’s never been allowed to visit. He’ll wake up sweating, in his half-spider form.
Irrice isn’t sure exactly what he’s looking for. Maybe his sister. Maybe for gnomes, to learn more about gunmanship. Maybe for a shifter- any shifter- who might be more willing to teach him about his dual nature than his mother. Whatever it is, Irrice knows that what he has now isn’t enough. He is ready to dip his toes in the waters of adventure. Tentatively, of course. Safety first.