What Is the Curse?

The Curse is the most famous characteristic of Metamor Keep and its surrounding Valley, affecting all humans who live within. The Curse actually consists of three separate curses, which are:

  • The animorph curse (morph): a person is changed into a half-human half-animal creature that can shift into a full animal;
  • The transgender curse (TG's, or Gendermorphs): a person is changed into the opposite gender, and can shift into a more handsome or more beautiful version;
  • The age-regression curse (AR's, or Pedomorphs): a person is changed into a child, and can shift through a range of ages down to toddlerhood and up to adolescence.

Any person who stays within Metamor Keep long enough (typically 7 days) will be afflicted with one of the three curses. It is impossible to remove by any means. Although these curses alienate them from the rest of the medieval world, they do not cause any pain, nor prevent the victims from living a fulfilling life, once they've come to terms with the curse.

How The Curse Came to Be

Nasoj is an evil mage who has found a secret way to extend his life indefinitely. He hates Metamor and Whales above all other lands because he knows that the Prophecy of his downfall can only be fulfilled by these two lands together. It was Nasoj who Whales overthrew for their freedom so long ago, though they do not know he was the power behind the oppressive throne. It is Nasoj's intent to rule over the whole world because he seeks to live forever. Only through such control does he foresee it happening.

Nasoj over the centuries has made many allies. Some are mages, whose life he lengthens in exchange for service. Others are peoples such as the Lutins, who claim to be degenerate descendants of the mythical Elves of a previous age. Others include renegade men, giants and other creatures of darkness.

During the Battle of the Three Gates, Nasoj and his wizards cast three spells down each of the gates. One spell transformed its victims into incredibly buxom women or over proportioned men. Another spell made its victims full animals. The third infantilized its victims. The Keep wizards were only able to partially reverse the effects of the spell. The spells, due to their chaotic composition and nature, had a permanent effect on the Keep as well. It was also fatal to both the mages who cast them and the mages who fought to counter them, decimating what few mages remaining to Nasoj and Metamor for many years.

Who Is Affected By The Curse

There are two cases when someone would receive the curse. If they were present at the Battle of the Three Gates, then they are cursed. If they reside within the Valley for a long enough time, they are cursed. This length of time varies and can be as short as 5 days for some people, but after 2 weeks it will always take effect.

The targets of the three spells were initially the Keep's three gates, but the range rapidly expanded to encompass much of the Valley. Most people in the Valley had taken refuge within the Keep during the siege, so the question of how rapidly the Curse spread is a moot point. It is known that, within a few months, the current boundaries of the Curse had been set to about 12 miles in all directions from the Keep — about one day's ride — including upwards and downwards. These boundaries are tied to the level of mana at the Keep. Nobody knows it yet, but global mana levels are slowly rising — causing the borders of the Curse to very, VERY slowly expand (i.e. 2 feet every year).

Any new arrivals not caught by the initial spell will begin to change if they stay in the Valley for a period of about two weeks. The spell will not hold if the person leaves before two weeks ends, but will if they are almost always in or near the Valley. Once changes have started, they are impossible to stop or reverse.

The change is governed by a confusing mix of hormonal and psychological changes brought on by puberty. Therefore the change begins sometime at 14, and takes the normal two weeks to conclude. AR transformees show no visible effect of their transformation, but merely stop growing at a certain age. They are able to shift back and forth between toddler and 14 as usual. TG'ers and TF'ers continue to grow until they reach the end of puberty, even in their transformed bodies.

Although children do not feel the effects of the curse, they can receive it, even if they leave the Valley before the age of 14. When they hit that age, whether they're in Metamor Valley or not, they will begin to change.

Which Curse?

During the Battle of the Three Gates, people received a curse depending on which of the Three Gates they were closest to. After the Battle, the three curses overlap each other enough so that the curse is more or less completely random. *Contemporary mages theorize that belief or desire, as well as need, may have some impact on the manifestation of the curse; re: Murikeer Khunnas having dog-like legs rather than plantigrade normal to skunks, and that the Sorceress Kozaithy became a skunk after being rescued by one.

Although the vast majority of written characters are animal morphs, this is purely authorial preference and not a reflection of Metamor demographics.

The children of transformed parents tend to express as their parents did. While this is by no means assured, the children of animal parents tend to express as the same species as their parents. If the parents are of two different species or transformee group, then the child may express as either one.

It is possible to be caught by more than one spell during the Battle, and subsequently have a mixture of the three spells. The results of such are unpredictable. People caught like that are rare. New arrivals almost never have a mixture of transformation. Anyone wanting to have a character who mixes 2 or 3 of the changes must get permission from the universe controller and have a reasonable idea to explain why it occurs. Under rare circumstances more than one aspect of the curse may affect even newcomers in the case of the papal knight Bryonoth who was initially stricken by the gendermorph aspect, becoming a human female, and subsequently also stricken by the animorph aspect becoming an Assingh mare.

Which Animal?

Those who have been cursed into the forms of animals can run the range from typically encountered species worldwide, with a greater number of them becoming species native to the region of Metamor or their origin regions (those from the south will tend to aspect species from that region, ect. It is not known why this occurs, but sages and mages both believe there is a great deal going on within the subject to direct this course - somewhat).

Any animal form is acceptable. At the present there is a Grasshopper and a spider morph at the keep. Extinct species (like dire wolves) and mythical ones (like griffons) are also allowed, and there is even a tree, Laracin. The only exception to that rule is dragon morphs, which do exist but are very rare. Be creative! If in doubt feel free to ask the universe controller.

How Animal Forms Work

In general animorphs have two aspects of their curse; a bipedal, anthropomorphic "morph" form most familiar within Metamor, and the normal "full" form of their new species. Hands tend to be the most markedly limited; as hooved animals such as deer and horses, typically have fewer but thicker fingers terminating in small hoof-like tips. This affects their fine manipulation, but most have learned to manage this shortcoming. Dentition remains within the range of their new form but, oddly, their digestive system is almost unaltered from its human state. Herbivores can consume a varied, omnivorous diet and carnivores are perfectly capable of consuming a very vegetative diet if they desire.

Typically the default normal aspect is this bipedal form, with varied levels of humanesque appearance. Some appear to be little more than humans with modest animal traits, while others are little more than animals with enough human traits to get by - hands and speech, typically.

Many animorphed keepers, especially early in the establishment of the curse, could not handle their new changes mentally. Some become trapped in their new form, but retain some semblance of their intelligence and personality, while others are no more than what the curse has made them into, both mind and body. Others are able to assume their bipedal form, but revert to their animal nature under stress.

Changing Forms

Nasoj's curses were meant to pull the residents towards one of three helpless forms. The mages of the Keep were able to tie in a counter-curse that partially undoes this curse, that lies within voluntary control of the victim. This means that even a non-magic user is capable of, with practice, shifting towards the baser form of the curse, or back to their default midstate. Some victims, particularly those under stress or suffering from other magical afflictions, may find it difficult or impossible to shift or control their shifting.

Transgender victims (Gender Dimorphism) can change between a relatively normal person of their gender to a bombshell. While most don't find this of any use, some women take pride in extreme proportions. There are female to male transformations as well as male to female.

As with the other aspects of the curse, there are a variety of abilities within reach of those who are willing to put forth the effort to practice them. The easiest is the alteration of their physical appearance. Transgenders are able to tone down the stunning good looks and often powerful desires caused by the curse. They can appear quite normal if they choose, and over time this tends to become their default appearance. Some can even make themselves rather ugly, for whatever reason.

Others, however, have taken this to an entirely different level. As with the alteration of age among the pedomorphs or 'taur and size alterations practiced by the animorphs, transgenders can do many things within the bounds of their new curse. Many are able to alter their height and weight with little exertion of will, and can maintain these alterations for considerable periods unconsciously. Others can further this with alterations of hair color and eye color (often completely unconsciously - which might explain why they have such changes in various archival texts) as well as general skin tone within that normal for their race. In combination this makes them superlative spies, both for Metamor and unfortunately against it at times as well.

The greatest, and most difficult, of these alterations is that to their very gender. With considerable will, effort, and practice gendermorphs are able to assume their previous genders for a time. This exacts a considerable toll on their body if maintained for long, and requires almost constant focused concentration. Unfortunately this does not return to them the biologic nature of their previous genders. Those who were once male cannot sire children this way, and those who were once female cannot bear children.

Age regression victims (Pedomorphism) can shift between the ages of infancy and around 14- 15. Since AR people find it easy to trick adults and are naturally adept at slipping into small places, they are usually found in diplomatic duty down south.

Those who have age-regressed to childhood are, in the norm, relatively stuck between the ages of toddler (3 years) and pubescent age (13 years). This does create a great degree of complexity for them, in particular their social and intimate lives. It also enables them to act as superlative spies in distant lands, since no one pays great heed to children. Altering their appearance within that ten year range is not terribly difficult, it just takes some thought and concentration. They will generally shift to a default age, which can be different for every individual, but usually around the apparent age of nine years.
Psychological traumas may alter this default aspect, and situations of great stress will tend to make many who do not have a firm control over their curse to shift to and remain at that default age.
By and large pedomorphs do not have any ability to alter their appearance via the curse.

Some very few who have prodigious wills and through considerable effort are able to push their appearance beyond the bounds of the curse. They can appear to be fully adult for a time. This is an extremely difficult ability to learn, and one that requires utmost concentration to maintain, but it is possible. Likewise, for whatever purpose, they can even take on the aspect of newborns for a time.

Animalized victims (Animorphism) can shift between a fully animal example of their species and a sort of halfway morph. They are persecuted and hunted outside of Metamor and the closest surrounding lands which is why Metamor and its immediate area have a considerably higher number of animorph citizens than age or gender morphs.

For some, there is a greater ability to manipulate their forms than with any other curse. Small species, such as rodents, have a difficult time becoming as small as their natural counterparts but - with effort and practice - can do so for a time. Large species can assume their natural forms with much greater ease. Equines, bovines, and other contemporary working animals have turned this to their advantage in business.
Further, others have put effort into melding the two aspects. They've trained themselves to combine the four limbs and strength of their new form with the arms and hands of their former human selves. They have learned how to become 'taurs - a quadrupedal meld of both forms. Many can maintain this form for lengthy periods of time without needing one hundred percent concentration, though it is draining on them over time.

Taur Form

The very variable nature of the curse means some Keepers can change into a taur form. Others cannot. The final decision is up to the individual writers. If the author wants their characters to be able to change into a taur then the characters can. If not, then the characters can't change to that form.

Only animal morphs can become taurs, not Gender or Age morphs. Foxtaur, skunktaur, rat-taur are cool but no humantaurs. Mind you it might make a really good (& strange) TF story. As to why some can and some cannot change into a taur, who knows? The curse is a strange thing. Misha first changed into a foxtaur as a result of someone tampering with the curse itself.

If a person can change, mastering the new form and the methods to achieve it is not easy. It takes a long time to fully master the form. Walking and moving is easily mastered, but other, harder things take practice. It will take a lot of practice before Matt has fully adapted and can use the Sondeck as a rat-taur, or Misanthe to speak in her feral fox form.

The biggest advantage and disadvantage is size. Like Misha said being that big is great in combat but a real problem in the tight hallways of the Keep.

Non-Humans and the Curse

The curse was only cast against the human inhabitants of the Keep, so only creatures that have human blood can be effected by the curse. This means that half-blood lutins, were-creatures, and other human 'cousins' are vulnerable to the curse. Topo is an example of this happening. The weremouse tarried too long at Metamor Keep and picked up the characteristics of a falcon as a result.

It should be noted that the curse will only effect the human part of a hybrid species. Elves are though to be immune to the effects, as legend has it that they are descendants of the fey folk, though this has not been tested as elves are hardly seen outside their forests in these times.

Pregnancy, Offspring, and the Curse

Authors are free to choose whether or not their characters can produce offspring or become pregnant. The rules, as they stand, allow anyone of the three Curses to procreate with an untransformed human. In any case, having children, or revealing an unknown child, is ALWAYS considered a major interaction, and can only be done with the express permission of the characters' owners.

Age curse

When a person receives the age curse, they can shift in age from 3 to 13, and have a default age that they become when not actively shifting. This age varies by individual, but is usually about 9. Most ARs tend to lose their sexual libido, and thus do not procreate. But if an AR is capable of and willing to shift to 13, they can engage in intercourse and produce offspring.

If an AR woman becomes pregnant, they lose the ability to shift out of puberty, until the child is born or lost.

An untransformed pregnant woman who receives the AR curse will shift down to the offset of puberty, and remain there until the child is born or lost.

Gender curse

A man who becomes a woman will typically gain the ability to become pregnant, and lose the ability to impregnate regardless of their ability to master their manifestation of the Curse. The reverse is true for woman who become men. If a character was impotent before the Curse, however, that will be healed by the curse as all other infirmities are healed, insofar as their new gender allows.

An untransformed pregnant woman can still receive the gender curse, but the effects will not appear until after the child is born or lost. Once their womb is empty, they will immediately transform, even if the woman has long left the Valley.

Animal curse

An uncursed human, or an AR/TG human (provided the above circumstances), or another animal morph, can still produce offspring with an animal morph. There is no rule that prevents this from happening even with non-mammalian morphs. Since Metamor Keep is a PG-13-rated universe, we politely ask that you refrain from describing the equipment or mechanics involved.

A person who is trapped in full morph can also produce offspring with humans and morphs — again, and with greater emphasis, we ask that you refrain from describing details. Most people in MK will react to this with as much disgust as with an untransformed animal.

Animal morphs cannot produce offspring with untransformed animals, even if they are the same species, and even if the morph is in full animal form. This is also very poorly received by the populace, if not moreso than a mere un-cursed human practicing such.

On rare occasions, animal morphs can produce offspring who are already born with the animal curse. Their form can be either parent's, or they can be born human and receive any of the three curses at puberty. When both parents are of the exact same breed, it is especially likely that their children will have the same curse (i.e. Lord and Lady Avery). If the female is considerably smaller than the male, the fetus will adapt to her physical norms regardless of the size of the sire. If one member is an un-cursed human the resulting fetus will also be an un-cursed human. Strangely, un-cursed infants who are born away from Metamor, or removed within the grace period after birth, do not typically manifest the curse upon reaching puberty. Apparently the period of pregnancy is immune to the touch of the curse.

Decorum and Manners Among the Cursed

Although plenty of Cursed victims retain their original mind, all three curses have a possibility of affecting the mind or personality to reflect their new form, especially under stress. In light of this, social norms are a bit more relaxed at the Keep, compared to the Midlands. Rodent morphs, for example, are often seen carrying chewing sticks to gnaw on. Helping other people come to terms with their new forms is a common courtesy.

In general, transgender morphs appear as very good looking members of their new gender. This, however, seldom translates mentally and can cause a good bit of social and cultural problems as the person comes to terms with their new gender. Some stalwartly refuse to accept what they have become and comport themselves as they did prior to the curse. Others have problems with their new intimate urges; they still desire the gender that they preferred before the curse. For those who were married before the curse this carries an especially heavy burden, especially if they are devout members of the Ecclasia.

Metamor is, and has been, a far more egalitarian culture in respect to gender roles and that has become even more apparent since the curses. Both women and men can be seen working in jobs typified by the other gender. Crossdressing is not unusual among TG's, although some people take it as a sign of being in denial.

There is a divide among animorphs concerning the acceptability of public nudity in morph form. Some Keepers are known to never wear clothing. Others are still embarrassed by it. Although there does exist clothing and armor that can magically shift with an animal morph's form, it tends to be too rare and expensive for most people.

In particular to animorphs: When assuming a 'feral' form - the pure aspect of their new species - they often adorn themselves to indicate that they are more than a random, purely normal, animal. Typically it will be a scarf, beads, braids, fur dye, or bells that mark them as 'touched by an intelligent hand' as a farmer might a domesticated deer or wolf.

The Curses and Faith

This is a complicated and tricky situation for both of the dominant faiths within Metamor; the Ecclasia and the Lightbringers.

Pedomorphs are able to practice their faith, intimate, and familial situations, relatively without limitation. They are able to marry, though it is preferred that the marry others are likewise cursed with this aspect; but they are not barred from marrying those with other aspects of the curse.

Animorps face a good bit of complexity in their social situations, but species are not barred from mixing, to include humans, when it comes to intimate and family situations. This causes nothing more than the often complicated issue of bearing and rearing children; one never knows what might be born of such unions - human infant, or already manifest animorph infant. Where both parents are of the same, or very similar, species the children are almost always born as already manifest animorphs. Where the species differ they will typically be born human, and subject to the curse as they age, or more rarely an animorph of one parent's species or the other - or, even more rare, a hybrid of both. Human mothers always bear human children regardless of the gender of the father, while human males are in the dark as to the child they sire with an animorph.

Here the transgenders run into a formidable barrier. Due to the fact that the curse affects the body but not the mind, many transgenders still find themselves leaning toward the gender they preferred before the curse. If they preferred the same gender previously, this is no big issue, but if they were heterosexual before they are no longer such. This makes the established religions stumble and balk rather profoundly when it comes to dealing with these previously unexpected but now commonplace relationships. The Lightbringers are rather egalitarian, but such familial arrangements are not preferred but are accepted. The Ecclasia, to date, acknowledges such unions that were established before or beyond the bounds of the curse, but will not officiate over any matrimony subsequent between members of the same gender.

None are denied entry into either faith as long as they meet the requirements of that faith. The new Pontiff of the Ecclesia is even willing to accept child and non-human Clergy - but only for the Metamor diocese. The only requirement is that they are male when ordained (to date, no ordained priest or religious in the Ecclesia has received the transgender curse if they were ordained prior to being cursed).

How Outsiders See The Curse

Animorphs have the greatest difficulties beyond the immediate region of Metamor and kingdoms that border it because they are no longer able to appear human whatsoever. While some are able to travel abroad, they generally do so under the aspect of their newly assumed species either to blend in (and unfortunately expose themselves to be hunted by the unknowing), or with humans who are their 'handlers'. Many encountered abroad are, unfortunately, not beyond the bounds of Metamor of their own free will. Due to the limitations of their new appearance more animorphs remain within Metamor's borders than any other aspect of the curse.

Those who have been changed from the gender of their birth to the opposite gender (and gorgeous representative thereof) are most easily able to blend into the current human world. They are those most likely to travel beyond Metamor on their own to carry on with their new lives. It is one of the most desirable of the aspects of the curse because of this reason. In particular among females who come to Metamor from more male dominated cultures.

Magic and the Curse

Since this is a magical universe, it is possible to affect transformations other than the normal ones. But such magic can only be used in addition to the Keep transformation, and is unable to restore the original form or general species of the person. Extremely powerful transformations are forbidden. Attempting to modify the curse will only result in exacerbating it or worsening it. Mere exposure to powerful magic can be damaging.

The only people who have some ability to remove the curse are mages who work under Nasoj. Such cases should be very rare and should be approved this with the universe controller.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License