Happy Halloween, everyone! It’s unthinkable and shameful that we’re nearly through the entirety of October, yet I haven’t written even one post for the best month of the year. I’ve decided to rectify that by giving a generic GURPS post on a subject close to the spirit of the season: putting on a different guise. Shapeshifting, in both figurative and literal forms, features in stories, art, and cultural practices the world over. Why, exactly, are they so ubiquitous? Given that shapeshifting iconography goes back into prehistory, it seems like something that’s pretty big to the human consciousness, and the usual suggestion is that shapeshifting (or at least animal-related shapeshifting) related to crossing the perceived boundaries between humans and the rest of the natural world.
Whatever the reason for its prevalence, the theme of changing form has remained with us into the present day in both real world belief and fictional media alike. For GURPS, shapeshifting is primarily achieved through the two advantages listed under…well, Shapeshifting. In some edge cases, other advantages do come into play instead, but for the most part those two advantages are where any skin-changing spellcaster, superpowered hero, or strange esoteric being will be heading for mechanics. This isn’t nearly the end-all-be-all on shapeshifting as a concept – especially when it only covers advantages and disadvantages, not skill-based skill systems and such – nor do I expect anyone to find it on par with an officially published GURPS title, but hopefully it’s at least a somewhat useful set of gathered rambling thoughts on the subject. The post format was inspired by the one used by Christopher Rice/Ghostdancer for his GURPS 101 advantage posts, but tries to avoid adhering to it 100%, as 1. I’d prefer my words to flow in my own way, not someone else’s. 2. I’m not nearly the level of writer he is. I had originally planned to end this post with a set of premade shapeshifter goodies, but time was against me, so that will be a follow-up post at a later date. Continue reading