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Shifters are a special type of creature. They can become any kind of animal on the planet almost instantaneously, and are completely indistinguishable from whatever being they choose to imitate. Shifters are able to maintain their animal form for a maximum of one hour before they are forced to return to their human form. They cannot become any type of flora, nor can they imitate another human being.
The senses of wildlife are transferred to the shifter upon their transformation, and last for the duration. The animal instincts do not effect the shifter, however, as they retain their human personality. This is how, though physically indistinguishable, shifters are often discovered; they act nothing like the animals around them.
The shifting process is actually painless. The shifter has to will their body to take on the form of their animal of choice, then within a few seconds, they become the animal in question. It could be considered a second body, as any of their clothing and belongings stored on their person are present when they return to their human form. These items are not present in animal form. If a shifted form is maintained for the full hour, it takes no less than 30 minutes to be able to shift again.
Shifters as a species are generally flighty by nature (no pun intended). Many prefer to run from their problems as a safety mechanism, and aren't always good at head-on confrontation or conflict. The ones that don't try and avoid their issues may stubbornly meet them head-on and refuse to back down until they get their way. Their personalities tend to run in extremes.
Because of their constant editing of their very DNA to alter their appareance (though the process still isn't fully understood), shifters have sacrificed a longer lifespan for the ability to change forms. Thus, they live about as long as the average human, about 85 years or so.
The most dominant ability of the Sphinx is their ability to shift into lions, the fiercest predators, and they can do so at any time and for however long they want to. Additionally, their lion form is slightly larger and more powerful than normal lions.
Sphinxes can also transform any limb or other appendage at will, meaning they can grow fangs or claws in their human form, or any other feature such as ears or fur or paws.
Additionally, sphinxes have enhanced senses, agility, and balance, and their lighter bone structure also allows them to fall from immense heights and take little to no damage. They can also see exceptionally well in the night, but they are NOT able to see in pitch blackness--that is a common misconception.
Finally, sphinxes are immortal, but they physically age at an extremely slow rate. The oldest recorded living sphinx at the moment is around 1,000 years old, however.
A sphinx, unlike a werewolf, does not have a specific day in which they are weaker or more powerful, so sphinx are able to shift as soon as they are born (although they aren't capable of doing so until their toddler stage). Sphinx babies tend to age quicker than human babies, meaning they can do at younger ages what a human baby cannot, like speak, walk, etc. This continues until puberty, at which point humans and sphinxes tend to sync up, then they age into adults. Adult sphinxes age very slowly, but they do age.
Sphinxes can also only be born. They cannot be turned like werewolves can.
They are also susceptible to witch magic, having little to no defenses against their spells, which is how they were cast from power in Egypt centuries ago. As such, they have a natural hatred and fear toward witches.
Sphinxes are prone to hedonism and laziness, though they can overcome it if their passions are great enough, but they will almost always choose to do things the easiest way they can.
Lastly, sphinxes are extremely territorial, more so than wolves, but their territory is often confined to their house or workplace. This territoriality can cause issues if a sphinx even thinks that an individual is challenging them, and, as such, can cause a sphinx to become passive aggressive or rude or outright violent against the transgressor.
While a werewolf can shift any time they please for as long as they please, they are forced to shift at midnight on the night of the full moon, and cannot become human again until dawn of the next morning. Their wolf form resembles that of a feral wolf, and with the exception of their eye colors remaining the same as their human form, they are indistinguishable from their canine counterparts. On their forced shifts, they generally feel the call of the wild and display more animalistic tendencies than they would for voluntary shifts. On these nights, most prefer to run deep in the woods to exercise and to hunt.
Bitten werewolves are more of a toss-up. Many of them, after the initial transformation and shock, begin to assimilate easily into werewolf society. They typically find a pack and find their place, though it isn’t always with their creator. The rest of them typically struggle with their new identity, and see the wolf as some sort of monster within. They do not accept the new portion of themselves as themselves; these are the ones that cause trouble. Bitten werewolves, as a whole, typically take 3 to 4 minutes to shift, and feel every part of the process as pain, though with practice the time and intensity can lessen.
Every wolf feels the call of a group to belong to, bitten or born. They are social creatures, regardless of their human personality, and need others to know their place in the world. Their group does not necessarily have to be made up of other werewolves, though they usually prefer those of their own ilk.
With a wolf's blood comes a wolf's senses. When in their shifted form, werewolves possess significant increases for every sensory organ. They can also see in low lighting conditions, but not as well as a sphinx would. Their noses and ears are especially affected; they can follow just about any scent trail up to a week old, and can hear the smallest of sounds under snow. In both human and wolf forms, they also have increased physical strength, allowing them to pose a threat no matter what they look like.
Aconitum, a purple flower better known as wolfsbane, brings about severe abdominal discomfort in small doses when consumed. If a werewolf eats enough, they will die a slow, painful death by poison. It is effective in either wolf or human form. The toxic juices from the plant can also be used to coat a weapon, but it has to pierce fully through the skin to be effective.
In wolf form, mercury (also known as quicksilver) will burn a werewolf and prevent them from healing as quickly as they normally would. However, this method of injuring werewolves is far less common as mercury isn’t as easily obtained as in previous years.
A more violent approach to dispatching a wolf would be completely removing the head or piercing the heart with some form of true silver. Silver bullets are most common, but a blade or arrowhead would also do the trick.