Shapeshifters are creatures with the ability to physically transform into animals while retaining their human mind. The number of animals a Shapeshifter can transform into depends on how the Shapeshifter received their abilities. In earlier history of the Eight Kingdoms, Shapeshifters were hunted for sport, capture and experimentation. Their treatment continued until the Wolfshine Rebellion of Red Acre. The Shapeshifters were set free and plots of land were reserved for the greatest Shapeshifting tribes.
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Shapeshifters generally look like humans except for their darker and muscular appearance. Their true distinction comes from after they've shifted for lengthy periods of time which drains their energy and makes them pale when they revert back to their human form. Shapeshifters aren't immortal but have longer lifespans than humans.
Like vampires, Shapeshifters have enhanced strength, stamina, durability and an accelerated healing factor: one that doesn't heal wounds right away, but makes the recovery time quicker than humans. Along with their inhuman capabilities, they're also able to shapeshift into one or three animals, depending on how they acquired Lycantorpism.
Shapeshifters get their uncanny abilities similar to how vampires get theirs, from a disease. The shapeshifter disease is known as Lycantropism. The first Shapeshifter was the god, Okysus, whom could shift into an infinite amount of creatures. The first generation of shapeshifters could only shift into one animal. When they reproduced, their children could shapeshift into three animals, one of those shifts however was inherited from their parent.
Similar to how men pass on their last names to their youth in society, male shapeshifters pass on their prime animal transformation, commonly referred to as an Indonum). Indonums are very popular in Shapeshifting clans. When an Indonum is passed on to a youth, that transformation becomes the youth's Indonum. Indonums are also passed on when a shifter bites a human and turns them into one. Females can only pass an Indonum when biting a human or by being the only shapeshifting parent of a child.
Shapeshifters that receive their Lycanthropism from a bite, can only shapeshift into one animal.
To put this into perspective, everyone in Clan Wolfshine bears the Indonum that is a dire wolf. When a Wolfshine bites a human, they pass on their white wolf.
A shapeshifter's only weakness is the loss of magical output. Without their ability to output magic, they cannot shapeshift. Being pierced by silver can cause great distress and can pause their ability to shift, same as Robustium Steel which conducts magic.
Like the majority of creatures in the Known World, Shapeshifters stick to their own kind by living with their own clans.