Shapeshifting vs Polymorphing


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I've got my own thoughts on the matter, but I'm interested to see what other people think.

What is the difference between shapeshifting and polymorphing? Is one magical and the other not? How does the change of forms work?
I would generally say shapeshifting is an innate although supernatural ability. Polymorph is a spell. IRL though they're basically the same.
Heh. Okay well, like I said I have some of my own thoughts and, playing a character who changes forms, I've given this a lot of thought. So here goes my thoughts...

Shapeshifting is a non-magical ability. The shapeshifter can turn into anything they've trained themselves to turn in to. However, because there is a very specific amount of body mass to go around, they are limited. For instance, a shapeshifter who is naturally the size of a human MAY be able to turn into something the size of a mouse, but they would have a very difficult time moving, because all of their body mass would be condensed into that little form, making their density insanely high. At the same time, that shapeshifter MAY be able to turn into something the size of a small whale, but they would be almost transparent because their mass would be stretched over a massive area.

Polymorphing, on the other hand, is a magical ability. A polymorpher would not be limited by the restraints of their own body mass. Hence my most common character, Fang, a dragon that dwarfs many others of his own kind, having the ability to turn into a regular size human and still function just fine. However, polymorphers are far more restricted in the forms they can take on. While shapeshifters can take on the basic shape of almost anything they see after only a couple efforts, polymorphers have to be enchanted with the ability to take on a specific form.
Heh. Well like I said, I've given this some amount of thought having played a polymorpher for so long.
Well I would say that Lowthor hit the main points I would innitially. I would however have to say after reading your theory have to disagree.

I would say that the Polymorphor is far more at a disadvantage. The first being specifically as you mentioned the need for the right enchantment or curse if you will to change. This represents a problem if the spell is verbal or needs complicated hand guestures that only Naruto could pull off with out breaking a finger. Breaking concentration being the most dangerous aspect. Secondly that its highly unlikely that any mage ever dared to make a spell that would make him the size of say an ameoba, or bacteria. That noted, the shapeshifter, I believe would not acctually suffer from the super mass or lack there of in the change, but would acctually develop the mass as it shapshifts, be forcing a super fast growth of tumors or cancer in some fasion to develop the mass to make it beable to move on its own and maintain a balence that the creature would normally possess. The Polymorpher however would again be transformered into the creature via magic but that magic would be constrained by time and the materials around the being being transformed. Depending on how the magic would suplicate the mass required to be lets say a humongous dragon, it takes matter from the mountain around it, that much mass would then make the mountain unstable and would thus crumble, if it takes it from a alternative dimension or even directly from potential energies that free float in air or light or anything else a similar problems would arise from where ever the magic gathers the nessacery capacity for the transformation.
Interesting line of thought, Mith. My character's polymorph ability touches on a bit of that. There've been times when I've mentioned where he draws the energy from in order to make his change but, given that he and every other dragon in Ayenee I've ever seen has the ability to change into a human, there is a seperate energy pool specifically designated for the purposes of changing forms. Actually I've been considering having part of my next book make mention of that, and possibly have some outside force find a way to drain that "energy well" as I call it. I just have to figure out what they're going to do with that much power.
I wonder how such a small car can transform into a large Transformer, like Bubblebee...
Eh,sorry...This subject and the fact that Myles is bugging me to go to the drive in to see the new Transformers Movie made me think of that....
*Kicks it back into the correct subject corner*
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