Zoimorphic School of Magic
The Zoimorphic school of magic is focused on the alteration, manipulation and creation of life forms. Practitioners do not refer to themselves as thus - terms such as Biomancer, Life wizard, or Seekers of Perfection are far more common.
Potential Zoimorphicists are skilled magicians who have an interest with tinkering with life. Often the power-hungry in search for new minions may begin to travel this path. It is not one to take lightly as the time and effort required to make any real progress is quite high. Many projects are very long term and taken on by the school as a whole.
Generally a given school of Zoimorphicists will have a very specific goal for their projects - creating life forms to exploit dangerous or unique environments, weapons of war, improving humanity, etc. Only those sympathetic to that goal would be considered for entry. Most societies persecute Zoimorphicists and the schools are very secretive. One notable exception is that of the The Rephatians
The main procedures conducted by Zoimorphicists are extensive rituals performed on creatures to change their current attributes, making the changes inheritable, and to speed the process along.
Projects take large amounts of time unless great risks in terms of subject mortality are taken.
This school has arisen independently in numerous cultures, sometimes as offshoots from Druidic or Animistic practice, other time as the results of applying magic to improving agriculture. In other cases, the simple rituals of shamans and midwives may slowly evolve over time into the greater rituals. One could consider the low level spells themselves as the School of Midwifery.
Perhaps the greatest practitioners are The Rephatians who almost exclusively apply their art to humanity itself and regularly imply the highest level rituals.
In many cultures this type of magic, with the exception of the Midwifery spells, is viewed with hostility comparable to necromancy and so is generally practiced in secret.
There are rumors of powerful artifacts of magic that greatly improve success rates of the Zoimorphic rituals, but no concrete information on these has yet been found.
Many of the defences of The Unseen Fortress were created via practioners of this school.
This school of magic is not well suited for adventurers due to the long duration required to perform the rituals, and the potential for abuse. It is this potential abuse which makes this school a good source of conflict in a campaign, and allows evil secret societies, governments or other organizations to create the various minions to harass adventurers.
GMs will need to carefully adjudicate use of these spells - no alteration will come without some cost to the affected creature. Increased strength, for example would require added bulk or increase in metabolic rate.
Additional Ideas (4)
Unless otherwise specified, none of the listed spells are applicable to beings already born. All of the Mortality boosts are accumulative within the same pregnancy so generally changes are introduced slowly over many generations. Virtually any existing attribute can be adjusted. Addition of new Attributes is the domain of the higher level enchantments.
All of these spells are risky, so even if your magic system does not require a 'casting' roll or equivilent, these spells have a 5% chance of Exceptional Success, and a 5% chance of Exceptional Failure. In addition, all of these spells have casting times in the hours.
GMs can easily increase material costs, failure rates, etc, to keep the effects of these spells under control.
Sequences of rituals can be grouped into sequences allowing for repetition and refinement. In these cases, the difficulty of the individual rituals decreases as well as the level of mortality. However, no rituals can be added to the sequence, or all probabilites drop back to initial levels.
Dominate vs Recessive
Without delving deep into real-life biology, for the purposes of this school, any alteration which creates a Recessive Attribute requires both parents to be so altered for the progeny to gain the Attribute boost. If the Attribute is Dominate, then only one parent must have the Attribute.
In addition to these spells, the school makes use of the same array of spells as the School of Midwifery.
Mark Attribute - Long duration ritual 'Marks' an individual attribute or trait. Some attributes can be very hidden and this will affect the amount of time required for it to be 'Marked'. GM And player imagination are needed to define an attribute or trait.
Surpress Attribute - Decreases Expression of Marked attribute by 10% at cost of 10% Mortality rate increase. Exceptional Success results in this being a Dominate effect, Exceptional Failure results in the trait being increased by 10% with a 20% addition to mortality.
Induce Minor Mutation - Introduces into the subject a random minor mutation - for good , ill or neutral. Caster has no control over the form. Mutation is 20% fatal due to interference with vital function. Minor mutations are generally cosmetic or the preliminary appearance of some new capability. In that case, only 10% of the mutation's final form is added, requiring use of Boost Attribute to bring it into being over time.
The mid-level enchantments generally make minor changes to existing creatures - minor increases in size, attributes or even morphology changes (lengthing limbs, fusing toes, etc), and allow for extensive alteration of unborn lifeforms. Where possible, the spells act as thier 'Minor' counterparts with respect to already born beings, including chance of mortality.
Possibilities include any effect which is considered reasonably possible within Genetic Engineering in the future.
Greater Boost Attribute - Increases expression of Marked attribute by 20% at cost of 10% Mortality rate. Change can be made Dominate by doubling chance of mortality, or by applying to two successive generations.
Correct Major Abnormality - Corrects one minor birth defect or genetic disease of generally cosmetic form. Defect needs to be Marked first. Exceptional Failure results in 10% increase in Mortality.
Greater Surpress Attribute - Decreases Expression of Marked attribute by 50% at cost of 10% Mortality rate increase.
Induce Major Mutation - Introduces into the subject a random Major mutation - for good , ill or neutral. Caster has no control over the form. Mutation increases mortality by 30%. Major mutations are generally quite significant but do not provide 'supernatural' powers.
Copy Attribute - Allows caster to copy an attribute from one lifeform to another. Expression in the recipent is not strong and will require multiple generations to strengthen to the level from the donar creature.
Graft - Caster can attach parts from one living being to another. Mortality for the recipient is 10 % for limbs, 30% for torsos, heads. Mortality for the 'donar' depends on what is removed, and how. This spell can be used to perform 'transplants' and there is no issue with rejection. Exceptional failure results in life-threating illness that requires powerful assistance to cure.
Greater Boost Fertility - Increases likelyhood of successful conception by 200% Exceptional success in casting can cause multiple-births. Exceptional failure results in 10% chance of sterility in mother.
Greater Shorten Gestation - Decreases Gestation time by 30% but increases mortality rate by 20%. Exceptional success results in only 10% increase in mortality. Exceptional failure increases mortality by 40%.
These are truly the rituals of legend! Creation of new creatures, or great changes to existing fall into this category. Effects not really considered plausible in Genetic Engineering, at least in the foreseeable future would qualify.
Accelerate Development - Speeds maturation of the subject by 400%. Learning and growth are all accelerated allowing beings to be brought to maturity quickly. The ritual must be successfully repeated to stop the acceleration as well, and only one ritual of either form may be attempted (successful or failed) per year. Additional attempts are 100% mortal.
Creation - An extremely expensive ritual that is the epitome of the art. The normal process of birthing beyond conception is skipped, and the new being is formed outside of the parents once the ritual is completed. The ritual must be started within a very short interval of conception.
Purge Deformity - All defects are removed if cast prior to birth. When used after birth will remove 1 birth deformity of any severity.
Meld Beings - Ritual causes two separate beings to be physically melded. If significant intelligence difference exist between the two beings, the greater intellect and personality remain, otherwise the result is a complete melding of the two intellects and personalities. Physically, the form will be as desired by the caster given any combination of the two initial life forms. The resulting form sterile except if the spell is an Exceptional success. If this ritual is recast upon a sterile being created by this ritual, it will remove the sterility. The resulting being is considered a separate species from it's parents subject to GM ruling.
Divide Being - This ritual can reverse the effect of the Meld Being enchantment, but can be cast such that the two beings produced are mixes of the initial two beings. If cast upon a unmodified singular being it creates two new beings.
The beings can either be near identical physically at half normal age and experience - essentially clones, or two 'incomplete' beings.
Generally such beings are mentally and emotionally fragmented depending on where the cleft occurs.
As an example of this effect, consider the Transporter accident with Captain Kirk on the original series Star Trek. He was divided into 'good' and 'evil' sides - one too passive and the other too aggressive to deal with reality. The actual effect is as desired by the GM for storytelling purposes.
The Secret Weapon
After long work, an evil secret society has nearly completed creation of their ‘prefect’ soldier. At this point in time, the number of available stock is small, but they have greatly increased the reproductive rate though heavy use of magic and a powerful artifact. Their plan has just been discovered, and the PC’s are contacted to help stop the project by destroying the young breeding stock before they reach maturity. Of course the facility is well defended, including all sorts of failed experiments and hybrids. And to make it even less palatable for the PCs, the young strongly resemble young humans.
CodexMastwood Island ( Locations ) Area - Other
In an age of sail, one of the most important of resources is a source of tall, straight and strong trees for use as masts. Mastwood island is one such location.
The Nurglur ( Lifeforms ) Constructed - Underground
The Nurglur stand taller than a man, though they are stooped and hunched so their faces lie at a height similar to ours. Their bodies are slim with a muscled, wiry strenght and their feet are turned with three bird like talons.
The Rephatians ( Society/ Organizations ) Mystical - Local
A people of systematic inhumanity - beyond bloodthirsty.
The Unseen Fortress ( Locations ) Fortification - Forest/ Jungle
In the realms, not all fortifications are walls of wood, stone and iron.