Concerning Shifters (PROCESSED)

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Niabi
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Concerning Shifters (PROCESSED)

Post by Niabi » Fri Aug 28, 2009 8:46 pm

So I'm starting this topic so that anyone who plays a shifter or I guess just anyone who wants to share their thoughts can do so.

So anyways I was thinking about it the other night and I was wondering about what sort of laws might there be concerning shifters. I know we have discussed that the ability to shift forms isn't illegal within Marn but I was wondering about what other sort of restrictions or protections might they be offered under the law.

I know many of them hide the fact that they are shifters but what about the ones that don't? Are they treated the same as any other person? Are they treated like animals? Or is it somewhere in between the two?

Seeing as how I think all the shifters have no ability to communicate in words to a human or other creature that they are in fact a shifter when they are in their animal form, how is the other creature suppose to know that the animal before them isn't fully an animal? What if this human kills and eats the shifter assuming that it was merely an animal, did this person just commit murder and cannibalism by eating a shifter? What if somebody knew that their neighbor happens to be a rabbit shifter or something and they kill the rabbit for dinner, would they be charged with a crime if the shifter died as an animal?

If it was illegal to kill shifters would hunters be expected to know that an animal wasn't a shifter before they killed it? And if so, would anyone try to take the time to try to check that they were doing so?
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Re: Concerning Shifters

Post by Niabi » Fri Aug 28, 2009 9:26 pm

Recently we had a guy name Blaze join us, he didn't stay but one of the few times I did speak with him in chat he brought up a question that I have seen other people ask before. The question was concerning what happens when different shifters breed with each other. I can't remember where exactly I saw it posted but I believe it has been said that we generally will allow creatures of different species to breed with each other even if it wouldn't naturally happen.

My question is more about the end result of this, what do you get when shifters breed? If they breed with humans, it makes sense that their children would either also be a shifter or a normal human. If two shifters breed with each other do their children take on shifter ability of only one parent? or can they shift to either animal as well as being a human? Or do they turn into some weird cross between the two animals and we get some flying fish or cats with scorpion tails?
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Re: Concerning Shifters

Post by Gizmo » Fri Aug 28, 2009 10:52 pm

Regarding cross-breeding shifters: I would think that the dominant genes would overrule the recessive ones. Of course, evolution doesn't create a perfect product over one generation, so certain blends might end up crippled freaks. In fact, I would guess that most would, unless all of the shifter DNA in one was dominated completely. It also depends on how much of the shifter's capabilities are magical. The more magical, the more likely it is to work, but the consequences/downsides might be more phantasmagorical. imo.

As for the laws, I would think that shifting would be an at-your-own-risk thing. I doubt they've bothered to pass any legislature that actually protects shifters in particular, even though they might tolerate them. Therefore, who cares if that rabbit stew used to be Uncle Henry? Not the government, that's for sure.
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Re: Concerning Shifters

Post by Pagusel » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:33 pm

A lot of these questions are ones that would be nice to have answers to for the sake of agreement among different shifters, but we already have many different established shifters that follow entirely different rules.

For example, Pagusel is from a race that doesn't shift into a specific animal--individuals are just born as shifters who will eventually come of age and be able to shift into one animal, which can be unrelated to whatever their parents shift into. In her race, when it comes to interbreeding with non-shifter humans, the union may or may not result in a shifter. Other people play by entirely different rules: some shifters are magically endowed to be the way they are, some are afflicted by a werewolf-type curse, and some are born to a race that shifts strictly between one animal and one human. Considering the different rules a lot of us are applying in how we consider our own shifters, the discussion of how interbreeding works is much more complicated (and really probably moot) than just a matter of dominant DNA, or the question of what the baby's shift animal would be. Different rules, no answer.

When it comes to how the government handles shifters, I think my way of thinking has just assumed that as a trade-off for allowing such quasi-magical behavior to go on, they don't offer protection to people in animal form. Pagusel is a bug. The judges can't try someone for homicide for accidentally treading on her. I am, of course, bringing in my preference to this point of view--I prefer to imagine shifters as not possessing human thought when in animal form, even though I know that's not how many people play them. But, I think it's probably reasonable to imagine the government holds such a point of view, too. Along Joe's line of explanation: If you CHOOSE not to be human at times, then you don't get human protection at those times.

Outside of legal issues, I think the treatment of human versus animal forms is probably left up to culture. Pagusel wears the hides of dead shifters as clothing (because her shifting ability doesn't allow her to bring clothing "with" her unless it is also imbued with similar magic); she doesn't view them as human. This is because of her particular shifting race's culture.

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Re: Concerning Shifters

Post by Frug » Sat Aug 29, 2009 12:38 am

I know many of them hide the fact that they are shifters but what about the ones that don't? Are they treated the same as any other person? Are they treated like animals?
They're treated like people because they're sentient. The ability to transform into an animal doesn't make someone any less of a person in the eyes of Marnian law. Remember that Marnian law is quite particular about issues of racism. While this conflicts with their religious views, the official stance on shifters would be the same as their official stance on all magical creatures.
If you CHOOSE not to be human at times, then you don't get human protection at those times.
You do so at your own risk, but there are times when people may be transforming for useful reasons. If a battlemage turns into a dog to sniff out a criminal, that shouldn't give you the right to kill him. If a jester turns into a monkey to entertain children, it's not going to be okay to cut open his head and eat his brains while everyone watches. It has to come down to what's reasonable.

Also, it has to come down to culture obviously. This is about Marnian law. God knows what the people in Tzalxochitl do. Maybe they'll kill you for being a monkey and not a snake.
Niabi wrote:If it was illegal to kill shifters would hunters be expected to know that an animal wasn't a shifter before they killed it? And if so, would anyone try to take the time to try to check that they were doing so?
I think that it would be based on intent, not a blanket statement. If a guy is hunting in the woods, kills a deer, and it turns out to be Niabi, it is the court's job to decide if it was an accident or not. Someone would have to accuse him of murder, and a trial would ensue.

These days we ask whether he took 'due diligence' to ensure that he wouldn't accidentally hit a shifter, however we live in a rather lawyer riddled society that requires warning labels on everything. This wouldn't be the case in Marn. The onus is on the shifter not to prance around in the woods when there are hunters around, not on the hunter to double check that the animal he's shooting isn't a shifter. Again, someone is going to have to prove intent somehow.

The judges are not going to look the other way if you immediately kill a shifter who turned into an animal in front of you. That's still murder, and the people of Marn generally don't want psychopaths on the streets. Hardcore puradynes may think it was okay, but they would also think murdering anyone who is a mage is ok.
what do you get when shifters breed?
I agree with Ming that it's open to interpretation, but I will take what she said one step further. I don't like bringing up too much science and DNA because you can't explain magic with science and DNA. Sure the physical sciences may play a role, and sure, a shifter of a certain breed will have particular DNA that is passed down, but this doesn't entirely explain their transformative abilities.

At most, on a hardcore scientific level, what DNA can provide is a predisposition to a certain mental model which enables a person to utilize certain forms of magic. ie. a werewolf is a person with a brain that is wired up to use magic to transform into a wolf, not a person with DNA that lets them transform. The DNA transforms when they transform, sure, and I'm sure there are a lot of shifters out there whose DNA also dictates that they will have physical features related to their animal form even in their human form (a wolf girl might always have fangs) but the act of transforming is magical, even if it is considered a 'natural' ability by them and others. I say this because I don't believe it's physically possible for someone to turn into a wolf (certainly not if the wolf is half the size of their human form), so it must be magic, not DNA.

There are also cases like Chrishton, where it goes even beyond a mental predisposition based on DNA. He is completely magical. Spirits follow him around, he has his powers because an avatar of Inari gave them to him, and they just don't boil down to anything physical. It is entirely the result of some sort of projection from the astral plane that grants him the abilities. If he walked into a room that was completely sealed off from the astral plane (like somewhere in justice hall) he would be 100% human.

So I would leave it up to the person's preference on how to view their shifting abilities. If you're more inclined toward a natural physical explanation, it makes more sense that you'd have an odd, cross bred mix, or even some godawful deformed still birth. Otherwise, whatever the gods decide.
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Re: Concerning Shifters

Post by Ayden » Sat Aug 29, 2009 2:18 am

With interbreeding between different species of shifter, I would suspect that some of the offspring have one shifting ability and other offspring have the other. For example, if a cat and a fox shifter mated - you would have some fox shifters and some cat shifters, not necessarily a mix between the two. However, it depends on the type of shifter your character plays as well to what actually happens with the children.

As for laws, a shifter, being a natural magic of sorts that isn't actually illegal would most likely have the same legal protection as normal humans. However, although racism is not exactly normal in Marn, their would still probably be some prejudice against shifters in the actual laws and decision making process.
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