After the conclusion of the Third Secret War, an alliance of shapeshifters seized control of the global paranormal community from their enemies, the vampires. And their first action as hegemons has been to disable the “Veil,” an absurdly powerful and exceptionally ancient spell that kept the magical world hidden from the mundane one.

Now, in this new era of openness and cooperation between the normal and paranormal communities, its become increasingly popular, and even fashionable, for ordinary humans to get ‘turned’ into magical creatures. And given their vast power and reach, the shapeshifter communities have been especially aggressive at recruiting new members, especially since shifter children are always born human and strong cultural taboos prevent turning children before they become adults.

But joining a shifter community is not without its costs. Ancient shamans wrote the shifter rituals so that the cost for magic could be paid up front, by the loss of their human magic, and by bloody sacrifices upon unholy altars.

Which community will you join?


With the fall of the Veil, ordinary humans have reclaimed the ancestral magic they’d been separated from since the Akkadian Empire was destroyed and the powers of the Sumerian language sealed. But this is not a magic of convenience or ease; it is the magic of deep time, of two million years of evolution since coming down from the treetops. It is a magic of self deprivation and bloody sacrifice. Religious orders enforced fasting and penance on their members for good reason: despite possessing only a remnant connection to magic, holy men and women could perform miraculous feats even when the Veil’s strength was at its apex.

Human magic is incredibly versatile. In theory, it can do just about anything. Even the Fey are envious of human capabilities. But human magic is also brutally fair to its users. To gain anything, an equivalent price must first be paid. In fact, this is the reason shifters were created in the first place.

Humans are the second most populous variety of sapient, after the Venusians.


It is something of a misnomer to call Weres a ‘community.’ Rather, they are an alliance of a variety of different were-animal shifters. Oldest among them are the werewolves, some of the earliest shifters. Oral histories indicate that the Werewolf Ritual was cast roughly twenty-five thousand years in the past, concurrent with the domestication of the eurasian wolf. Since then, copycats have replicated the spell for virtually every mammal domesticated prior to 2100 BC. While werewolves remain the most common variety of Weres, there are established communities of, for example, werecats, werellamas, werehorses, and even the rare werecavy. (Humans who can shapeshift into guinea pigs. A creation of the Incan shaman APOCATEQUIL, may he never awaken, and one of only two shapeshifter communities created while the Veil was still in force.)

As almost all Weres were created using slight modifications of the same ritual, each variety has largely the same capabilities. All can swap between their human and animal forms at will, all have vastly increased healing speed and immunity to most diseases and ailments Furthermore, all possess negligible senescence. They do not age at the cellular level, and are generally as healthy at two hundred years of age as they are at twenty. Though while this typically keeps Weres healthy and attractive well past their first century, the cold calculus of injury rates leaves all but the most timid of Weres heavily scarred or even disfigured by the time they enter their fourth century. Due to the increased memory storage and therefore brain size required by their longevity, Weres experience intermittent growth throughout their lives. For each century of life, a Were typically gains three inches in height.

Furthermore, Weres typically receive some measure of the capabilities of their animal forms while human. Werewolves gain speed and a superior sense of smell; werecats gain night vision and unnatural balance. Werehorses gain-- well, suffice to say it’s not fit for printing.

Weres also share one more common quality-- enforced hierarchy. Weres are instinctively deferential to the Were that turned them. Weres more than six centuries old can command tens or even hundreds of thousands of individuals between the people they personally turned and the people turned by their subordinates. With the original creator of the first Were Ritual lost to history it’s unknown whether this characteristic is an intended feature of the were ritual or part of the cost paid for casting them, but evidently it was such an integral part of the ritual for establishing new were varieties that only the Lobisomem-- the new world werewolves-- are unaffected by it. For this reason, the Lobisomem are treated as and view themselves as an independent shifter community, rather than part of the larger Were umbrella.

But while the other capabilities of Weres are relatively standardized, there is massive variety in the available animal forms. Aside from the interspecies variance encountered, each Were species also has at least two different rituals, which each confer different degrees of anthropomorphism. Those wishing to become werebovines can choose between looking like either miniature cows or traditional minotaurs in their animal form. Werewolves, meanwhile, have a full gradient of anthropomorphism between looking entirely like wolves and looking like someone with hypertrichosis and a tail. A ritual only provides for a single animal form, however, so choose wisely.

Turning into a Were requires the new were to first be heavily maimed by an animal-form Were. Then, the first full moon after healing fully from their injuries, all scars and old injuries are removed, and the new Were is transformed for the first time. Subsequent transformations happen at will.

While getting maimed is still a requirement in the modern age, access to anaesthetics prevent mental trauma formerly caused by this process. Conventional understanding of human magic indicates that making the transformation more convenient should decrease its power, but modern mages have reached a consensus that the sacrifices involved in developing modern anaesthetics are somehow factored into the overall cost of the transformation.

Weres can conceive and bear human children when paired with humans or Weres of the community. Certain humans are looking into the possibilities of merging human and animal forms, although the cost in lives to make so called ‘catgirls’ is viewed by most as unpalatable.


Lobisomem are by far the newest variety of shifters, created in portuguese Brazil in 1697 by a cabal of Fey sorcerers in concert with all extant members of an almost-extinct variety of werewolves. How and why these Fey sorcerers modified a millenia-old human ritual is lost to time, as the entire cabal died in the process of recasting the spell. Meanwhile, all the original Lobisomem died participating in independence movements across the Americas, with the last dying shortly before the start of the Spanish-American war during the initial stages of the cuban war for independence. Thus, due to the notoriously tight-lipped nature of these first Lobisomem, we have no details about the nature of their Werewolf community prior to becoming Lobisomem.

Details of modern Lobisomem are more plentiful, however. On the surface of it, to be turned into a Lobisomem is very similar to being turned into any other form of Were. By being turned, they gain the ability to switch between human and wolf forms at will. Specifically, Lobisomem gain the form of the maned wolf or (randomly, and with extreme rarity) the form of the extinct Falkland Islands wolf. This makes them, along with the were-aurochs, the only shifters that can transform into extinct species.

Lobisomem also possess most other abilities held by other varieties of Were-- negligible senescence, a proportion of their animal’s characteristics in human form, increased healing speed, immunity to most diseases, and intermittent growth throughout their lives to support the larger brains required to store hundreds of years of memories. The one critical difference between Lobisomem and other Weres, however, is that they don’t feel any instinct towards hierarchy. This could disprove the theory that the instinct towards hierarchy is a feature, not a cost of the Were transformation, but proponents of the latter theory point out that the life expectancy of Lobisomem, despite their negligible senescence, is lower than that of humans, and for a well known reason. That being, the overwhelming propensity for Lobisomem to join revolutions, resistance movements, and rebellions.

It is unknown whether this propensity is due to some instinctual urge to defy authority imposed by their transformation, or the simple result of their recruitment strategies and the fact that those people who could both glimpse through the Veil and seek out a Lobisomem for transformation were overwhelmingly likely to already be dubious of the established order. Regardless, Lobisomem don’t organize themselves as a formal community like other varieties of shifter, but instead organize themselves around causes they feel worthy of killing and dying for. As the saying goes, the fastest way to become a vampire is to join a cult, and the fastest way to become a Lobisomem is to join a revolution.

Like every other variety of shifter, the Veil prevented Lobisomem from directly using their powers to aid causes they supported. But unlike other varieties of shifter, Lobisomem typically joined revolutions directly, rather than using proxies. Relying only on their regeneration and improved sense of smell in their human forms, they participated in every major conflict in the western hemisphere, and as they spread to the old world in the wake of the first world war, several major global conflicts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Because of their lack of coordination, however, Lobisomem do tend to show up on both sides of any conflict where multiple sides can claim to be fighting against authority. Notably, in the American civil war, Lobisomem were common both in the ranks of the Confederacy, fighting for independence, and in the ranks of the Union, fighting to free the slaves. Since the fall of the Veil, lists of deceased war heroes who happened to be Lobisomem were released. Interviews with the oldest Lobisomem have also revealed that a number of famous revolutionaries who reportedly died of old age, including at least one founding father, were also Lobisomem. To maintain their privacy, and avoid undue attention to their descendants, their names are being kept secret. At least for the moment, anyways.

The Lobisomem were not created in time to participate in either the First Secret War or the Second Secret War, although some speculate that the reason the original Lobisomem had their community so depleted were losses in the Second Secret War. If so, it is likely that they had originally been part of the Red Faction, supporting the Wyvern Lords before being betrayed and therefore permanently poisoned against hierarchies. In the Third Secret War, however, They provided the vast majority of the troops for the Full Moon Faction. In fact, unlike the other shifter communities, the Lobisomem had virtually no members defect to the Eclipse Faction, save for an extremely contrarian segment of Lobisomem rebelling against the reminder of their kind called the “Dark Enlightenment Army” and numbering only a few dozen strong. As such, despite their disunity, Lobisomem make up almost a fifth of the World Paranormal Congress, disproportionately large given the size of their population and limited distribution outside the Americas.

According to Gryphons, Lobisomem are “delicious.” It is unknown how they reached that conclusion, as there are no records of a Lobisomem ever being eaten by a Gryphon. Some speculate that the Gryphons mean this metaphorically, but that would only raise more questions.


Doppelgangers are a comparatively new form of shifter. Created sometime during Egypt’s Old Kingdom, they were spies and assassins of great repute, and were some of the shifters least affected by the Veil. The exact process by which one turns into a Doppelganger is a closely guarded secret, but it is well known that it involves a person renouncing their current form, which enters into a shared library of appearances common to all Doppelgangers. It is also known that, to become a Doppelganger, a person must deeply despise their own form. Thus, a doppelganger will never re-assume their original form, although it is unclear whether this is due to their feelings about their original form or some magical restriction.

Once someone has become a Doppelganger, they can check out any form in the common library at will. However, only one Doppelganger can assume a particular form at a time. Thus, due to the type of people who tend to become Doppelgangers, only a relatively small proportion of Doppelgangers can be in conventionally attractive forms at any given time. The allocation of these forms are managed by the Doppelganger Council, which has branches in Cairo, Arkhangelsk, and Sapporo. Most other forms can be ‘checked out’ without petitioning for approval.

When a doppelganger first checks out a form from the common library, adding it to their personal library, they receive a copy of that form in the shape it was originally added to the common library. However, any changes made to that form are persisted between the different times an individual Doppelganger checks it out. Thus, it is possible, although extremely rare, for a Doppelganger to die of old age. Forms known to be prone to health defects or sudden, unavoidable deaths are put on the so-called ‘red list’ and used almost exclusively by Doppelgangers who are ambivalent about whether they live or die. The exception are those forms that are both conventionally attractive and dangerous to live in, referred to by Doppelgangers as “poison apples.”

It is unknown how doppelgangers know how to pick a specific form from the library, and none are forthcoming about the details. Doppelganger forms are added to the common library permanently, and persist even if their original contributor dies.

Doppelgangers are known as much for their propensity to meddle in human affairs as their reluctance to meddle in paranormal affairs. Wikipedia’s list of famous figures who were also doppelgangers is continuously growing, and includes a vast number of funny looking but influential people. On the other hand, they completely stayed out of the First Secret War and the Second Secret War, and only entered into the Third Secret War during the final phase, after the mass production of ultraviolet blasters had effectively guaranteed the victory of the Full Moon Faction.

Or at least, that’s the official story. Few people give credence to the theory that someone can defect from their shifter community to become a Doppelganger; after all there are no known examples of it happening. But, some say, that’s only a sign that very few shifters ever get disgusted by their superhuman bodies. As a number of conspiracy theorists claim, if the Doppelgangers have a reserve of shifter forms, they have every reason to keep them secret, and the capability to lock down who gets to use them by having a loyal, higher-echelon Doppelganger inhabit them continuously.

Due to their tendency towards neutrality, some of the oldest living people, shifters or otherwise, are Doppelgangers. The Head Councilperson of Cairo is said to hail from sometime during the Ptolemaic dynasty. There are rumors that there are older Doppelgangers still, pulling the strings of the paranormal community from their impregnable hiding places.

Sphinxes despise Doppelgangers, likely because Doppelgangers like to take multiple cracks at riddles using different forms. It is extremely offensive to refer to a Doppelganger as a Changeling.


Skinwalkers long claimed to be the oldest variety of shifters, but recent archeological studies uncovered a Australian aboriginal ritual site now thought to be the origin of Skinwalkers. It is true that analysis of modern Skinwalkers reveals that there are actually at least seven lineages of Skinwalkers, each created in a slightly different ritual, potentially indicating that there existed prior skinwalkers from the time before the seventeen thousand year old Tasmanian ritual site, but the relative superabundance of the so-called ‘archaic’ lineage of Skinwalker, especially in Polynesia and the Americas, supports the theory that it is indeed the result of the most ancient of the Skinwalker ritual, with later rituals only cast due to a lack of local Skinwalkers to make new Skinwalkers.

Though while this confirms that Skinwalkers are a younger variety of shifters than the werewolves, they remain older than every other variety of were, and hold a comfortable eleven thousand year lead over vampires, comparative newcomers to the shifter scene.

The capabilities of Skinwalkers are well understood. Each Skinwalkers can make their body go into stasis, and then cast out their spirit, which then can latch onto any animal they’ve previously touched that is also asleep. Because their spirits do not travel through ordinary space, Skinwalkers were the premier messengers of the great crypto-empires. Zealandia, Hades, and Celestial Akkadia, among others, used them to administer their vast territories. While the fall of the Veil has revealed their previously invisible archeological sites, it is only with the help of the Skinchangers that we’ve been able to make sense of their ruined sprawl and sprawling runes.

Even after the Veil was raised, Skinwalkers continued their traditional occupation, albeit in service to various Were communities rather than human polities. The Pacific Disjoint unfortunately kept American shifters separate from the rest of the world, but the various Were communities of Africa and Eurasia maintained their links to those of the same species. In return, Weres provided their human bodies to the shifters, an especially important service for those Skinwalkers whose human bodies had long since died.

And yes, it is perfectly ordinary for Skinwalkers to lose their human bodies. While a Skinwalker’s body remains in stasis while they’re in animal form, they age normally otherwise. Thus, if a Skinwalker wishes to extend their life beyond death as an incorporeal spirit, they must arrange for their body to be killed during a spirit walk, whereupon they roam the earth, possessing unconscious animals they touched in any of their forms, until a host is killed. Because the Veil, prevented Skinwalkers from possessing unsuspecting human hosts, the only way for incorporeal Skinwalkers to assume human form was to form a contract with a shifter community.

Becoming a Skinwalker is a relatively simple process. First, a prospective Skinwalker is put into a specialized trance, either through rigorous meditation or, as is more likely in the modern era, through the use of tightly regulated nootropic drugs. Then, another Skinwalker possesses their body while they’re in this semi-lucid state. This dissociates the prospective Skinwalker from their human magic and forges a connection to new Skinwalkers abilities. The following day, after the new Skinwalker has slept off the aftereffects of becoming a Skinwalker, they are immediately capable of Skinwalking like they’d been born doing it.

Skinwalkers have something of a bad rap as poltergeists, particularly because of a rumored tendency to possess unsuspecting people. This author will state that these rumors are categorically false, as are all other unsavory rumors about Skinwalkers.


Despite old legends about their ability to turn into bats or mist, Vampires are incapable of shapeshifting. This is unsurprising, as people become vampires specifically to avoid ever having to change. That being said, Vampires are still technically considered shifters due to the nature of their monthly restoration cycle, even if culturally speaking they are considered the sworn enemy of most other shifter communities.

At the time of transformation into a vampire, a person’s body will be frozen at its exact physical state permanently. Any injury or illnesses afflicting the body will persist forever, but so will good health and mental acuity. Even hairstyles will be locked permanently in place. Any temporary injury sustained or appearance change lasts only until the new moon, after which the vampire will asleep for a full twenty four hour cycle before awakening in the same condition as when they were first turned. Thus, the Bite typically happens after a rigorous period of self-improvement, where a soon-to-be-vampire’s sponsor ensures they become fit, healthy, and to whatever degree possible, attractive. Thus, the conventional stereotype of devastatingly beautiful vampires is entirely accurate, albeit due to hard work rather than magic.

In the modern age, procedures like cosmetic surgery, touching up or removing tattoos, hairstyling, a rigorous workout schedule, and the ingestion of a cocktail of uppers and downers to ensure perfect mental clarity are typically performed in the weeks or months leading to a transformation. And what a transformation-- while vampires are entirely indistinguishable from humans appearance-wise, the transition into vampirism grants a number of very powerful boons. Superhuman strength and speed, sensitivity to electrical fields in water and humid air, perfect vision even in near-total darkness, pheromones that make humans susceptible to suggestion, and, of course, virtual immortality.

But these boons do come with some drawbacks. Vampires can survive what to a human would be fatal injuries and then get regenerated on the new moon, but the interim period before being restored is intensely unpleasant. And while in pre-modern ages, the only known way to kill a vampire was to deal massive injury to them, and then keep them in direct sunlight for as much of the twenty-four hour period during a new moon as possible, the discovery of electromagnetic radiation changed everything. UV light, it turns out, disrupts a vampire’s connection to magic and thus their body template, preventing regeneration. Thus, while sunlight is normally no more harmful to a vampire than to any other person, sufficiently powerful UV flashlights can kill a vampire in minutes.

And with the threat of these flashlights, the alliance of shifters forced vampires to abstain totally from human blood in the wake of the vampire loss in the Third Secret War. Most vampires thus feel perpetually hungry, although this has no actual health implications. Whichever ancient shaman invented vampirism was clever-- the vampirism spell is equally capable of being sustained by the suffering involved by the ingestion of blood, or the self-sacrifice of feeling constant hunger. This hunger can be alleviated by drinking animal blood instead, with more reduction the smarter the animal, and the worse the treatment of the animal, but synthetic blood is utterly useless, as the hunger is the result of magic, not physiology.

Vampires are capable of fathering children, who are always human, but the nature of vampire regeneration means that women vampires invariably have their pregnancies terminated on the new moon. However, recent advances in medicine allow vampire women to bear children through the use of surrogates. Vampires are also interested in the possibilities posed by artificial womb technology, and provide significant funding for its development.

Due to the costs in time and money associated with turning a new vampire, as well as long vampire tradition, a newblood will be bound to follow the orders of their vampire ‘parent’ for a period of five years. Refusal or betrayal leads to ostracization from the vampire community at large, and potentially even threats to their life.

The World Paranormal Congress is currently considering a bill to allow people to rent themselves out for vampires to feed on, although the number of people willing to become derogatively named “blood bags” are likely to be few in number and demand compensation far more expensive than newbloods will be able to afford. Most vampires view this bill as a pragmatic concession to pacify the oldest, most powerful vampires and thereby delay a rebellion. Thus, paradoxically, its greatest opponents are newblood vampires, driving a rift in between them and their much older, much wealthier sponsors.


The Bestials are not shifters in a technical sense, and are included among their number mainly for historical reasons. Their origin is unknown, and some claim they’ve been around since long before humans descended from the trees.

Across countless cultures, there are myths about a primeval time when men and beasts spoke as equal. The Bestials are the origin of these myths. Immortal talking animals with strange, eldritch powers. And these are true immortals; unaging and unkillable. Only the total extinction of the non magical equivalent of their species can kill a Bestial, and even then, any Bestial that wishes to continue living can undergo the poorly-understood process of Translation to turn into another species, typically one related to their original form. Thus, a number of elephant Bestials can tell stories of their time in the siberian tundra.

For millennia, it was assumed that bestials and humans were totally distinct. However, in the twelfth century BC, a skinwalker accidentally possessed a Bestial rabbit shortly before being shot by a hunter. When the Bestial’s reconstitution process completed, they found themselves next to their former host, a perfect copy of the rabbit, save for a few cosmetic differences. Their ability to skinwalk was gone, but they had become a Bestial, with attendant magical power.

Very few humans have chosen to become Bestials, as most who wish for an animal form choose to be a shifter instead. However, becoming a Bestial is the only known way for a human to acquire the capacity for Fey magic, and more, as Fey magic is, properly speaking, only a subset of Bestial magic. But the Bestial have both an overabundance of magic and an overabundance of limitations. Like the Fey, the Bestial do not tell lies, always abide by contracts, must follow orders from those who hold their true name, and cannot cross the threshold of a human dwelling without being invited. Unlike the Fey, the Bestial have no loopholes: there are no set of rules to break that release the Bestial from having to abide by what the Bestial and Fey call ‘Courtesy.’ The Bestial also have a number of additional rules they must follow, although experimentation has confirmed that one of these rules is that they can’t talk about those rules. Though it should be pointed out that, despite all the time the Bestial have been around, they have never independently formed a formal society. They are happy to participate in the societies of others, and indeed are some of the chief beneficiaries of the Veil’s fall, no longer barred from enjoying the technology of the modern world. But even Wonderland, magnificent as it is, could only exist because of the contracts forged by the Mad Queen during an extended translucent period for the Veil in the 19th century.

The magical capabilities of the Bestial are poorly understood. Healing powers, bringing rain, granting limited wishes (particularly ones that lead to Aesops), incredible combat abilities so long as they face overwhelming odds, sidestep teleportation, empathetic senses, and other abilities are widely reported, but the conditions under which they can happen and the costs which the Bestial must pay to use them are unknown. Even the Fey, for all their mystery, typically have the availability of their abilities linked to some fairly regular cycle, such as the lunar phases, or the growth of seasonal plants. Bestials are not known to harm humans except in self defense, but some (in particular the Cincinnati Raven) make foreboding warnings. The most famous and often repeated of these is as follows.

“The cycle closes, and Anansi will come to retrieve the sun. Then will the power of the Bestia wax.”

Most books on magic do not consider Bestials to be properly “alive,” and it is true that sacrificing a Bestial does not actually seem to do anything. There is no known way to prevent their reconstitution process.

Other Options

It is not, technically speaking, possible to get turned by two different varieties of shapeshifter. It is, however, technically possible to create a new ritual for a shapeshifter variety that incorporates the full set of powers from multiple different shapeshifter communities. But with the dramatically increased population of the planet, each human life is less valuable as a sacrifice, and merging together multiple rituals has an exponentially increasing cost. Plus, the inherent cost to maintaining the transformation increases with the power of the transformation. Back-of-the-envelope calculations by aspiring dark shamans indicate that one would have to sacrifice roughly ten thousand people, multiplied by four raised to the power of the number of rituals to be combined.

Consequently, the Association of Shifters has committed to resisting any efforts to create new shifter rituals. Though at the same time, any such would-be shifter is also likely to find some similarly ruthless, like-minded allies.

The world becomes stranger, and by some measures scarier, day by day. There is, however, one simple ritual that largely eliminates the risk of being affected by magic users. A human can totally relinquish their connection to magic by willing it so while drinking three drops of their own blood during a lunar eclipse, partial or total. People that do this receive what’s commonly known as the “mark of Cain,” an indelible stamp on their soul that prevents them from ever using magic, but also prevents them from being targeted by magical spells. And as a consequence, they become worthless as sacrifices.

People with a mark of Cain can be affected by the indirect use of a magical ability (for example, the flame of a magically created fireball will still burn them) but people channeling magical abilities become blind to their presence and cannot, for example, use curses or hexes directly against them.Untargeted magic is more versatile and therefore costs significantly more than targeted magic, so without the draw of a potential sacrifice magic users don’t typically have reason to attack people with a Mark of Cain.

Acquiring a mark of Cain will let one escape the magic of a contract with a Fey or Bestial, but in the modern day most contracts also include a ‘breach of contract’ section legally enforceable through mundane methods. Many have already reneged on contracts to keep their fey gold, only to find their house foreclosed.

Extra Lore

This CYOA was originally posted in two reddit threads with in-character replies. They can be found here and here.