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The Changing Breeds, also known as ferals (or more rarely therians), are shapechangers who possess in them both Animal and Man, united into a single creature. Technically, the Uratha are part of the Changing Breeds but many of the rules that apply to Father Wolf's brood have no bearing on the feral races. As with werewolves, the feral condition is not contagious and ferals are able to adopt different forms, but ferals are limited to three. They are hurt by silver but do not share the other aspects of the Urathas' pact with Luna, especially their tie to the moon's phases. Changing Folk do not experience changes with the moon but instead with the fluctuating harmony between their animal and human selves.
There are other shapechangers beside them. Skin Thieves use the flayed skin of killed animals to transform themselves, while several other creatures that have also access to multiple shapes lack a Nahual and therefore are not considered Changing Breeds in the sense how they are represented here.
The Nahual (nah-HOO-al) is the animal spirit that rules a feral. It comes from an Aztec word meaning "animal shadow soul" and is sometimes used to refer to the Changing Breeds in general but it more accurately describes the atavistic totem that creates the bond between Animal and Man in a feral. There are two parts to every Nahual: breed and accord.
Breed and SpeciesEdit
The Changing Folk have a number of different breeds, and within them various species. The breeds are not like tribes among the Uratha or even like the clans of the vampires, but instead are much looser affiliations of species that are related either in outlook or through their animal kin. Species of the same breed might get along very well with each other, fight bitterly, or even have little or no knowledge of each other depending on the specific histories of that breed. There are nine Changing Breeds in all:
- Bastet: Werecats of all sizes.
- Land Titans: Elephants and elusive rhino-folk.
- Laughing Strangers: Foxes, hares, coyotes, raccoons and possum.
- The Pack: Wolfkin, dog-folk, hyenas and wolverines.
- Royal Apes: Monkeys, gorillas and man-like mysteries.
- Spinner-Kin: Spider-people.
- Ursara: Werebears.
- Wind-Runners: Horses, elk, deer and other lean, fast creatures.
- Wing-Folk: Bird- and bat-people.
A feral's Accord is the place where their human instinct and animal instinct connect, a common ground which both sides of their soul can agree. They often emphasize social roles and provide a sense of purpose to the feral beyond the superficial desires of their animal self and human mind. There are five different Accords:
- Den-Warder: Loyal, nurturing, protective.
- Heart-Ripper: Ferocious, voracious, implacable.
- Root-Weaver: Clever, inventive, imaginative.
- Sun-Chaser: Devious, passionate, tricky.
- Wind-Dancer: Flighty, inquisitive, uncanny.
Changing Breed characters have several new mechanics to keep track of. Some of them are similar to those found in Werewolf: The Forsaken but, true to form, many are different even in surprising ways.
Favors and AspectsEdit
The Changing Breeds are all born with intrinsic gifts (Favors) and individual powers (Aspects). Every character of a species has the same three Favors but they must pick their Aspects to reflect the nature of their Nahual and their role in a community. As a general rule, a werebeast’s Favor traits show what her breed has, and Aspects reflect what that individual can do. With Storyteller permission, a player may choose more Favors in lieu of Aspects, though this must be within reason and make sense according to their species (i.e. no werebears with Aquatic or weresnakes with Extra Limb). Certain "trickster" ferals (werecrows, Sun-Chasers, Celican werecats, and members of the Laughing Strangers breed) gain access to special Bag of Tricks Aspects.
New Merits for the Changing Breeds are Animal Companion, Beast-Kin, Den, Pack, Predator's Bearing, Socially Small, and True Breed.
Feral Heart, Essence, and HarmonyEdit
Similar to the Primal Urge trait of the Uratha, Feral Heart allows a feral to push above and beyond what normal humans do. It is also what determines how long they may stay in their war-beast form, which cannot be maintained indefinitely like a werewolf's form. Feral Heart also determines how much Essence a character can use, which works just the same as in Werewolf: The Forsaken. The werewolf form of morality, known as Harmony, is also part of a feral character and it determines the ease with which a feral can change form, something which is determined by moon phase among the werewolves. A feral that becomes too human or too animal and loses the ability to switch between worlds is called an Aiaetha.
The werewolf tribes rely on Renown to mark social standing while the Changing Breeds track Respect. The two are different mechanically but somewhat interchangeable and a Uratha with a high Renown will receive a certain amount of acquiescence from ferals and vice versa. The types of Respect are Cleverness (Root-Weaver), Ferocity (Heart-Ripper), Insight (Wind-Dancer), Loyalty (Den_Warder), and Passion (Sun-Chaser).
- Man-Guise: The human shape of the Changing Breeds is generally indistinguishable from humans except for a few animalistic features. Wereracoons might have darker circles under their eyes, wererhinos might have large, prominent noses, weremice might have quick, darting eyes, and weresnakes a habit of flicking their tongue.
- War-Beast: The Monster Made Manifest has one purpose: violence. It is a hybrid form that allows the feral to be brutally effective and violent, destroying enemies with fang, claw, and massive blade. The War-Beast form can only be maintained for a limited period, however, determined by the character's Feral Heart Advantage.
- Primal Beast: The full expression of the Animal self is a larger version of the animal that the character's Nahual. The Primal Beast form can be maintained without limit, unlike the War-Beast form, but a character risks losing themselves in the Animal self by staying in it too long.
- Throwback: More animalistic than the Man-Guise, this form is heavier and stronger than a human and resembles a bestial cave man. This form can pass for a human in dim light be is clearly something else.
- Dire Beast: Harkening back to the primordial days of the world when animals were strong and dangerous, the Dire Beast form evokes a more animalistic and dangerous union of human and animal soul. It will not be mistaken for a normal member of a species and will terrify most humans.
A given feral species will have some combination of these forms but usually not all. This is something that sets them apart from the werewolves as ferals are more purposeful in the forms that they take.
While werewolves are protected by the effects of Lunacy, the Changing Folk are protected by an effect known as Delusion which prevents humans from recognizing the supernatural nature of the ferals. Humans are affected by Delusion when they witness a feral in War-Beast, Throwback, or Dire Beast form or when they see a feral change from one form to the other. Unlike Lunacy, however, this effect requires a roll from the witness (Resolve + Composure - feral's Feral Heart rating) which can be affected by the person's background and the feral's Aspects. No matter the human's Willpower, they may be completely overcome with fear or push through the effects. Failures on this roll usually means that the person will rationalize what they saw and forget the supernatural, similarly to Lunacy.