Lunars as Elegant Tricksters and Noble Ambassadors to the Wild
For a while now, I've felt pretty dissatisfied with how Lunars are presented. There's nothing wrong with barbarians. A good example is Conan, he's a barbarian warrior, but he appreciates the things that civilization can give. There's no illusions about the problems with it, but there's no belief that it is innately "bad" or wrong. But, that's not just it.
If we look at the legends of a number of the shapeshifters of the world, especially in the East, we see shapeshifters as tricksters. The power to shape themselves is that to create dreamlike reality that others experience, yet it is somewhat fragile. This page is to explore these ideas, perhaps creating some new charms to this ideal, as well as looking at different ways they'd survive.
My vision is of Lunars as the living representations of the variety and wonder of Creation as a physical world. They deal with it on an even level. They can not create the new or from nothing, as that is given to the Solars, but they can mix those things that exist and change what is there. They deal with the little gods in a very instinctive and simple way. These spirits are normally asleep, they can bring them new dreams where they are different, perhaps becoming more important or special. A simple chair becomes a pleasant and elegant throne as the spirit dreams.
This is only the begining, as Lunar's understanding of essence grows. As easy as changing size, the Lunar can convince places that they are larger than they are, the inside of a tiny cave becoming large and capable of being a wonderful domicile for the hermit who does not wish to live in poverty. Similarly, the Lunar can even grow, infusing an area with their essence. They become not unlike the greatest progeny of the Primordials, existing both as a place as well as an individual.
Part of what I'm thinking of is a change in the basic ideas of Lunars. Lunars would have totems of a sort, but this is only one of many. Think of each Lunar as having a lot more than just one animal they're linked to. They can be linked to perhaps one sort of element over another, trees, but never grasses... There are preferences, and there will be bonuses to those, but there is not just one animal. I'm not saying they're limited except by their Essence understanding, and their own personal preferences.
Similarly, true forms are going to be a lot more flexible. Lunars who had something like Shaping the Ideal Form would be able to buy common looks for themselves. This allows you to have a Lunar who goes from being the old looking wandering priest to being a younger looking punk. They'd buy these for a minimal amount of xp and then be able to change between looks quickly. This is just part of how I see Lunar shapeshifting, it's innate, and able to become very fast and easy to do without much difficulty on the Lunar's part. They will have favored forms over others.
Also, while survival is a nice theme for Lunars, and one to keep, I don't think it's the best primary theme for this kind of Lunar. A better one would be "persistence". Lunars don't give up easily. Survival is part of it, because you have to live if you're going to try again, but there are things that are worth dying for also. A Lunar can be a wonderful ally or terrible foe... tracking you to the ends of Creation if he feels that it's the "right thing to do."
Another thing that I'm looking at getting rid of are the moonsilver tattoos. They're not really needed, and while I can imagine there are those Lunars that have tattoos (of moonsilver), they don't hold a Lunar in their original form. Instead, Lunars have an incredible and instinctive control of themselves. Attempts to change them physically (or even in more esoteric ways, at a higher Essence) happen, but the Lunar can always return themselves to their original form. How do you trick one of the world's greatest tricksters into forgetting himself? How do you reshape a Lunar so that they can not change back? The fact is you don't. You can drive the Lunar mad into forgetting how to do so, but that's a difficult proposition if their minds can be as quicksilvery as their flowing bodies.
While the Fey and Lunars seem capable of many similar things, though the results are obviously similar, the way of reaching this is very different. Fey force change at all levels with the force of their glamour powered might. At some level Lunars basically have a sympathetic relationship with the spirits of other things and their bodies. They are the everyman, the everyanimal, the etc... and because they are so similar, like when a Lunar changes someone else, it's because they are able to become like that person at very subtle levels and from there they can change them as they'd change themselves. While a person may conciously resist, if the Lunar is careful, they can trick the souls into believing the Lunar's power and attempt to change the body is coming from itself. The Lunar mimics the other in certain ways, almost hypnotising the spirits of objects, places and people and tricking them. This probably isn't done on a concious level. The Lunar can just instinctively feel this resonance between themselves and the different parts of Creation, and then manipulate this without having to think about it. This sort of changing eventually becomes as natural as breathing for them. And in this way, Lunars don't force change just reenvision what nature is, where the Fey do not need to carry such a light touch with Creation.
Demense alteration becomes easy for Lunars at some point. They are able to easily alter others into Lunar demenses. With a greater difficulty, they can alter them into Elemental demenses as they can with time focus on elemental essence. Sidereal demenses are not possible for them to create as they represent a spiritual force that is beyond the physical. Solar are impossible, as they shape the physical and spiritual worlds to them rather than being just part of them. Lastly, Alchemical, Infernal, and Abyssal Demenese can not be created (and are even difficult to alter) as they represent alien energies and ideals beyond that of Creation.
Essence Growth Progression and Shapeshifting
- Essence 1: At this point, the Lunar has just discovered the power in their mecurial form. It is difficult to seperate themselves from the idea of being an animal or themselves. As such, while they can take on the form of an animal, they can not become other humanoids because of the inability to seperate their sense of self from their form. At best, they can modify their own natural form. Their heart's blood forms are identical to the animals they were taken from. They are limited by how much they can change their mass.
- Essence 2: While the Lunar is still bound to only their own shape, and that of animals, they are learning both how to merge their true form and something of their heart's blood forms. Also, size is less of an issue as they can grow or shrink to forms very different from their own. Lunars with Shaping the Ideal Form can buy a set form for 1 xp, being able to reflexively change to any bought form for 1 mote. This effect does not count as charm usage.
- Essence 3: Lunars who have reached this level of Essence control have finally learned to seperate their self image (or perhaps just learn to adjust it) from their physical form and become other human forms. Also, at this point, they are able to learn to meld their animal forms, and innately change the appearance of one when they take it. Assuming the Tell does not set a particular aspect of their forms, it can be differentiated from their standard Heart's Blood shape. This becomes an innate power at this level. Also, they have learned to alter inanimate objects at this level of power.
- Essence 4: These Lunars have become able to take on the form of those things which are inanimate, yet still live. They can take on the form of plant life. It bears to note that the forms of those plants which have been altered greatly by the Wyld is still beyond them. Only those plants which can grow naturally in Creation are valid at this point. Those who start to take on the form of plants will find one which matches them more closely than any other, becoming another true form for the Lunar to use.
- Essence 5: Now all of the natural world of Creation is within the abilities of the Lunar. They choose another "totem", this time an element. This is not like the elemental aspects of the Dragon-Blooded. Lunars associate with an element in it's mixed forms in creation. They may favor objects which are more of a single element than others, but they are not the raw elements of the Dragon-Blooded. They can replicate things as simple as a sword or chair, to those as complex as buildings as long as it is within their size limitations. Now their plant forms can be combined with animal forms or a human form to create mobile versions.
General Note: While Lunars are able to only work with one form at a time as they begin down the path of the shapeshifter, in time they learn to merge their forms and create new shapes from them. This comes from a mastery and understanding of the forms. This mastery usually is gained at 1-2 Essence above the Essence required to take on the original forms. For example, at Essence 5, a Lunar could become a plant that merged aspects of two plants or one that mixed the plant's shape with that of an animal in some way. It is through these mixed forms that a Lunar truely demonstrates their mastery of Luna's gift of their changing form.
New Charm Trees
I find your ideas intriguing, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. - Quendalon
What Quendalon said. - NatalieD
More! I do like the ideas presented. - JackT
Well, I'll keep adding, but I also wouldn't mind comments, advice, or whatnot. The fact is, while I've started this, I would like to see more people's opinions. Balthasar has a different though similar ideal. His goes about things in a very different way, but the results are almost the same. That's what I like to hear about and what I invite people to do, or talk with me on things you have imagined would be great for Lunars. ^_^ - haren
I've been thinking, do people want more theorizing, or should I jump into the charm changes, and then (with so much work it'll take forever) new charm trees? - haren
- Right now it's all theory -- more of a manifesto than a ruleset. I'd like to see what you do with this mechanically. - Quendalon
- Admittedly, I want to give a rough idea and then go from there, so people know where I'm taking this. But, you can get an idea of where the mechanics are going from my Shapeshifting thing... since I've modified one thing already and am saying where the charms go with rising essence. Just hard to do it all alone ^_^ My brain keeps trying to go off-track. - haren
Curiously, back when all I had was the main book, this is closer to how I thought that Lunars would be to begin with rather than the way they actually ended up being. I was particularly irked at the great lack of plant-based shifting they got. Interesting ideas. I'd like to see more. -- Mnemosynis
- That's exactly why I'm doing this, because this is how I imagined them, based on the majority shapeshifter mythology... then they were very... not. I expected tricksters (hell, Luna is called a trickster goddess even in S&S, but where's the mastery of that?) and got warriors of different flavors. - haren