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I want to make an NPC who can change into different human forms. The concept I'm forming is the character is committing a string of murders, and the PCs have additional problems tracking the killer down simply because he changes his appearance.

  • I have the feeling that he should be able to remain changed for as long as he wants, rather than some powers which only have scene duration (which makes me think it's likely a change that's not easy to begin with).
  • It doesn't need to be like Mystique -- instant, and anyone they see.
  • It may not matter whether this is a a physical shift, or perceptive one.
  • I do not necessarily care whether the shapeshifter takes the form of living, or recently deceased people.
  • I'm trying to make a distinction from shapeshifters that change into animals or other non-human things. Dopplegangers are acceptable, just not a requirement.

I'm trying to figure out what my options are. I'm looking for "monsters" (used loosely) that have the aforementioned capability as part of their "fluff" or lore. Modifications from my initial character concept are possible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ When you say you're looking for "options", do you mean mechanical options, or in-universe creatures/magic that do this you can base the NPC on? If mechanics, you'll need to specify what game(s) is acceptable. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 9 '14 at 1:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Xenoterracide: That edit was not by me. Check the edit history That was SevenSidedDie. \$\endgroup\$ – Lyndon White Sep 9 '14 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interestingly mirriam-webster, colins, oxford, macmillan and longman dictionaries all agree that a doppelganger is a double of a living person. However Wikitionary lists in the contrex of Fantasy: "A monster that takes the forms of people, usually after killing them." I am still trying to find a specialist fanstasy dictionary to cross check that. \$\endgroup\$ – Lyndon White Sep 9 '14 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ xenoterracide: you are using both the nwod and nwod-god-machine tags. Current concensus is that they should not be used to gether, becuase the system is not sufficient compatible. meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/4773/… You should tag with just that one, then any answer that does want to port content will include a recommendation as to how it should be adapted to work with the system you are using. This will be of benifit to other future readers who do not have your skills at making house rules for porting rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Lyndon White Sep 9 '14 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I asked about mechanics because I was trying to figure out how to tag it. As for edits: I can see that "doppelganger" was a misunderstanding, thanks for the clarifying edit; that's not the right use of "inception", it means the beginning of something, but you don't have a something to begin yet—Jadasc's edit to "initial concept" is good. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 9 '14 at 16:21
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Kindred (vampires) can have the Familiar Stranger ability (from the Obfuscate sequence), which clouds minds to make them look like a generic person appropriate to the situation they're in. Couple that with the fact that kindred look fuzzy on camera and you have a creepy situation:

  • someone or some group is killing in a pattern
  • witnesses report an unknown beautiful woman at a fashion show, a scruffy janitor at a cafeteria, and a mysterious child at a daycare at around the time of the respective murder
  • when the PCs get their hands on the footage, they see people interacting with a blurry adult figure and acting as if they're someone unremarkable
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is that from Blood and Smoke Obfuscate, or from original VTR Obsufucate, or is it one of the ones that didn't change? \$\endgroup\$ – Lyndon White Oct 2 '14 at 5:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ They're roughly equivalent on this power. I believe there are differences in the details, but they fulfill the same general purpose. \$\endgroup\$ – Gregory Avery-Weir Oct 2 '14 at 13:52
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Belial's Brood Vampires can usurp living bodies after killing them, with a cost of 1 willpower dot:

Pneuma Transfer ( Belial's Brood -- Page 132 )

Effect: With enough mystical comprehension of pneuma, a Forsworn can learn to permanently move her soul into another living vessel. The process is taxing, but allows the vampire to experience unlife from within the flesh of another, and in so doing, to be reborn. Thus, Pneuma Transfer is a sacred rite of passage in the eyes of the Brood, and particularly among the Therion, who are denied the ability to sire childer. When used successfully, this power leaves the user's former body utterly unscathed, much like a perfectly functioning home with no occupant. Bereft of the presence of its soul, the body will begin to break down and rot, but no faster or slower than any other soulless husk. If measures are taken to ensure the body's protection from decay, there's no reason the body can't stick around more or less whole for some time thereafter. The Forsworn's soul cannot return to this vessel again (as it isn't alive), but nothing says the body can't be used for other purposes.

Success: Success indicates that the vampire's soul passes to the body of the mortal, in effect granting the body a sort of "back door Embrace." The new body is now a vampire in every way, and the soul of its previous inhabitant is lost forever. The Forsworn gains the mortal's physical Attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Stamina) and Skills, but keeps his own social and mental Attributes and Skills. He brings with him all powers he knew in his former body, except for the three physical Disciplines -- Celerity, Resilience and Vigor -- which he leaves behind for good. If he wishes to have these powers in his new body, he must relearn them anew.

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Mages definitely can do that (different combination of spheres, usually including Life of at least 3 - I can't really suggest anything for nWoD right now). Quite possibly some Changelings as well (some custom kind based on mannikin for example - i.e. changeling who is not made of flesh and as result can reshape himself).

P.S. I thought that some antagonist from Mage had the shapeshift ability, but not really sure - I've read the book quite a time ago.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The Manikin Kith won't help at all. The manikin kith ability lets them be an Elemental that has affinity for artifice contracts. But the face that all changelings have access to The Mirrorskin kith would help (about as much as a good disquise kit). I will post a full answer sometime later, when I have access to my books. \$\endgroup\$ – Lyndon White Sep 8 '14 at 6:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suggest you enhance this answer by explaining how a Mage can do this. Is it a level 4 Life spell? Or maybe there is some scope for a level 2 death level 3 life spell that lets you shift in to someone you have killed? \$\endgroup\$ – Lyndon White Sep 8 '14 at 6:40
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A few additional options in addition to mages, vampires and changelings exist but depend on wether you use pre or post gmc nwod and also if you want that adversary to be a human/humanoid to begin with or not:

  • Demons can take on the appearance of different people (how many different forms they can have depends on how powerful the demon is aside from that the only limit is how fast they can acquire soul pacts for throw away forms). Downside after the demon gave up a form it ceases to exist (the human does not come back) Only post GMC
  • Spirits and ghosts both of them have the ability to switch into a being or even objects and can give these appearances up and switch to another one.
  • Angels can take the same route as spirits/ghosts or can have the ability to take on different forms of their own when manifested depending on their mission Only post GMC

The first and last would be the being itself does the murders while the second and the last one could be that they use hosts to commit the murders and then jump to the next host (like in the old film fallen with denzel washington)

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A Mage can take the form of another human with the Life 4 spell Doppelganger.

However, having Life 4 comes with a baggage of extra powers that might overshadow this specific ability. Instead, the character could be a normal human that has found a cursed talisman imbued with this particular spell.

Such a talisman is considered a 5-dot merit. Before activating it, the ST rolls 1 die as a Paradox pool (I'm assuming a Gnosis 2 Mage created it), +2 dice if used in front of non-supernatural witnesses and +1 cumulative each time its used on the same scene. One success means the user doesn't control who he turns into. Two successes gives the user a derangement for a scene.

Activation requires rolling a 4 dice pool as an instant action and transformation lasts for a scene. With a -2 penalty it lasts an extra hour. Also, each success on the paradox roll removes 1 die from the activation roll.

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