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 Post subject: Avatars cannot transform
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 11:34 pm

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I read once in Nightlands that Avatars cannot change their shape but for the life of me, I cannot find the referencence. Does anyone know the page and paragraph?



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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 7:24 pm

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Pg 171-175 of the main book doesn't even seem to define any shapeshifting powers for the Nightlords to begin with.

The idea that they could seems to have been introduced in Nightlands? Pg 34 has under the Description for Lilith:
Her original form, which she sometimes assumes out of nostalgia

However, the context for that is sort of implied by what she does when she's not nostalgically assuming that form:
In the Nightlands, she encases herself with baroque black armor, and instead of hair, has a "mohawk" that is nothing but a solid-steel blade cresting her head

This sounds like she's still (deep down) actually her original human form, and that her "Nightlady" appearance would simply be using her (inorganic-only) matter-reshaping powers to create armor to wear. Lilith doesn't have any metamorphosis spells to otherwise explain it, the closest (since she knows all 1-6) is Mask of Deceit (NBp136)

The biggest mystery (if she's actually altering real apparance, and not making an illusion you get a save to resist) would be her hair: the implication seems to be that she either shaves her head or covers the hair with the steel mohawk blade while in Nightlady form. If she does shave it, then perhaps it takes her time to regrow her "long, straight black hair". She could easily do so by occupying an Astral Domain in the Outer Plane where time goes by quickly. Or maybe she knows some mage with some obscure fast-hair-growth spell we haven't seen published yet.

So I'd say NEITHER have shapeshifting powers... but to explain why avatars look different, a Nightlord can probably decide on how their Avatar will look when they create it, which effectively gives shapeshifting to an avatar via recreating it.

The main problem is that we don't really have any barriers to rapidly recreating Avatars to prevent Nightlords casually swapping out Avatar appearances. They can just super-easily expel/absorb them much like the Dragon Kings of Tolkeen do with shadow dragons, or like how a superhero might with Multiple Selves.

If there as some "creation time" or PPE cost associated with doing this it might help slow things down.

One idea I had: start out newly created avatars at 0 HP / 0 SDC. Avatars heal 2d6/melee so they'd be up to their 200-500 SDC and 24-74 HP maximums pretty quickly... maybe start them at 0 PPE as well?

This isn't much of a limitation, but it would at least create some vulnerable down time where a Nightlord has to nurture a "newborn" Avatar before sending them out into the world, and would disincline them to just casually recreate them on a whim to alter their appearances.

If we were to give Nightlords some kind of actual metamorphosis power (for those who lack the spell) it ought to be way harder than the spell. Some of the Nightlord, such as Moloch (who knows all spells 1-11) actually do know Metamorphosis: Human (he also knows Insect, Superior and even MIST which isn't even in the Nightbane main book: proof that NB chars can learn spells from other games!)

One possible idea would be to treat Nightlords as having the Deific Power from Dragons and Gods called "Alter Primal Manifestation". This is much more costly but has the advantage of lasting indefinitely. The high cost of using this would also help slow down the casual swapping of Avatars.

Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:45 pm

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I took a fresh look at the main book this morning... and it appears there is a bit of inconsistency.

Pg 15:
    Like the Nightbane, they have a Morphus or true form (always a nightmarish, alien shape),
    but they can create multiple incarnations (called Avatars) which operate independently,
    and can assume any shape at will.

That sure sounds like shapechanging is a rather casual thing for them... so if this was changed later on, I'd sure like to know where!

Pg 171
    The most disconcerting fact about the Nightlords is that they look like normal (even attractive) men and women.
    A few have used their powers to change their shapes into monstrous forms, but this is a conscious choice, not a manifestation of their nature.
    The Nightlords have human forms
    imprisoning a being who can manipulate matter, energy and their own bodies is nearly impossible

This does sound a heck of a lot like shapeshifting, even though it isn't spelled out and seems to contradict their "Matter and Energy Control" description on 174 which says:
    powers over inanimate matter
    Living beings are immune
    mold inanimate matter

The closest thing (which seems to be how Lilith transforms into Nightlord Mode) is "Matter-Energy Meld" because it says:
    can attach" matter and energy to their own bodies, giving themselves monstrous but very powerful shapes

I expect that their avatars also have these powers, although they have less PPE so they wouldn't be able to use them as freely.

"can assume any shape at will" tanks my theory that Avatars adopt a fixed form upon creation and can't continue to do so. There's still no mechanics listed... so I guess we could assume they could just change shapes indefinitely at no cost instantly (making them very powerful) or borrow from established abilities to put some kind of limits on it.

I'm still liking the "give them the Alter Primal Manifestation deific power" approach for setting an indefinite primary form, so that they're not constantly having to spend PPE to maintain their main role...

But aside from that, I suppose we could also lend Avatars (but not the primary nightlords) the "Reshape Facade" talent on page 110. That way they could instantly shift to alternate disguises for 6 PPE and spend 4 PPE per additional hour to maintain it. WAY cheaper and faster than using metamorphosis magic...

While on the topic of Deific Powers, there's another deific power where you can create copies of yourself. That might be interesting to borrow upon for assigning a prohibitive cost to Avatar creation so that it's a big deal and something they don't do casually.

There is also a cheaper version which Dragons and Gods defines for the lords of Dyval, and it allows more copies but they are weaker. That might also be used to explain how Nightlords do this. Nightlords are the enemies of Hades (ie Modeus) but so far as I know haven't come into conflict with Dyval... perhaps they might even be a form of lesser unassociated Dyval Lords like Tentac in Bletherad?

15 and 171 sure can't seem to agree on whether the 'true form' of a nightlord is monstrous or human though...

The way I'd look at it is that human is their default form, but when they affix a bunch of scary metal to themselves, they are basically making themselves look as evil as their alignments/auras actually are.

Much like Nightbane automatically assume Morphus in the dreamstream, it might make sense to have a Nightlord automatically assume their evil-looking armored forms rather than a naked human form.

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