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#13686139 Mar 08, 2018 at 12:46 PM · Edited over 3 years ago
1484 Posts
There are quite a few PCs in Champions Online who resemble a humanoid with some characteristics of various animals. It recently occurred to me from what I've read and heard from players over the years, that most of these are some type of Manimal from Monster Island, since that's the only type of "anthropomorph" most players are aware exist in the setting. But there are quite a few other potential sources for animalistic humanoid characters in the Champions Universe, offering a much wider potential in both powers and role-playing possibilities than many players know. They include present-day Earth, other planets and dimensions, as well as Earth in past eras.

I thought it would be helpful to the community to offer a sampling of these other character sources, which hopefully will spark ideas for PCs. I won't be covering every possibility; my focus will be on beings of essentially humanoid configuration which can be made with the CO character creator, and about whom enough information exists for role-playing purposes. The following will of necessity be a rather superficial summary; I'll mention the Champions PnP books in which you can read more about them, but am willing to provide additional info here, within the limits of Fair Use of the Champions IP.

Just to stay with Manimals/Beast Men for a moment more, Monster Island is not the only place they can be found. Dr. Moreau's first laboratory was in the Ukraine, at a site now known to only a few as Gornyj Zver ("Beast Mountain"). This is where Dr. Silverback, the simian super-scientist hero of Millennium City, was created. The folk of Beast Mountain freed themselves from Moreau's control many years ago, and their hidden colony survives there to this day. A few Manimals have been known to leave Beast Mountain to find their way in the wider human world. They include Snake, who acts as a supervillain based in Los Angeles; Ram, the bouncer at the Minefield, Valerian Scarlet's nightclub in Vibora Bay; and Lynx (not the member of the Brain Trust villain team), who has become a pop-singing sensation in Japan. 😜 They haven't disclosed the existence of Beast Mountain, though. Beast Mountain is described in fair detail in Hidden Lands.

That book also goes into great detail about Lemuria. CO players have probably encountered reptilian Lemurians, engaged in civil war with their human-appearing kin. The reptilians are the Lemurians' true form, although the spell that trapped them in a human shape was cast many millennia ago. However, even before the civil war, a "throwback" would on rare occasions be born who resembled their original appearance, and often had superhuman abilities based on some element of the Lemurians' natural shape-shifting ability, e.g. natural weapons like fangs or claws, amphibious adaptation, superhuman strength and toughness, a malleable body, and/or the ability to assume one or more other physical forms. These throwbacks were valued for their abilities, but when the Empyrean Arvad took the throne of Lemuria he found their appearance repulsive and ordered any newborn throwbacks killed, by expelling them into the sea outside Lemuria's domes. One of these infants was amphibious and able to survive to adulthood. During WW II he served Japan under the code-name Bakemono, and is still active today since Lemurians live up to three hundred years. (He's written up in Golden Age Champions.) Another amphibious, super-strong throwback left Lemuria many years ago to become the mercenary supervillain Leviathan (appearing in Champions Villains Vol. 3). It's also possible the Lemurians could have hidden a few of their throwbacks from Arvad, raising them in secret.

An entire race of winged birdlike humanoids, the Birdpeople, live on Thar, an island and city in the Indian Ocean long hidden from the world by perpetual mist, only discovered in the 1960s. A pre-industrial society with a warrior culture, the Birdpeople tend to isolate themselves from the world. To date only two Birdpeople are officially noted to have left their island, but some of the younger generation have expressed interest in seeing the wider Earth. Thar and the Birdpeople are described in Champions Universe, with a few more details (including PnP game stats) in Champions Universe: News Of The World.

Not yet discovered by humanity is the Kingdom of the Apes, a civilization of mutated intelligent gorillas abiding in underground caverns in Africa. In 1796 a radioactive meteorite landed in the Congo, its rays bestowing intelligence and ability to speak upon a small tribe of gorillas. The apes relocated to the caverns to avoid humans, and began to build their own civilization. Under the leadership of their "nigh-immortal, superhumanly-strong" King Simianus, today they number nearly 2,000 and have progressed to agriculture, mining, and smelting iron for tools and weapons. The apes hate and fear humans, but as humans have encroached closer to the entrance to their caverns, and population pressure forces the apes to the surface more often, they fear discovery and conflict are inevitable. The Kingdom of the Apes is mentioned in Champions Universe, and described at greater length in Champions Universe: News Of The World.

There are numerous Champions precedents for human beings transformed into animalistic forms, accidentally or deliberately. For example, the villain called the Basilisk became reptilian by unwittingly reading a spell in an ancient grimoire, while Python was the result of a laboratory accident. The Hornet gained his semi-insectile form after being attacked and envenomed by mutant insects. Hornet himself deliberately mutated an unwilling subject into the monstrous Dragonfly. A werewolf called Black Fang (not the same Black Fang who appears in CO in Vibora Bay) had the curse of lycanthropy deliberately inflicted on him. (All the preceding villains can be found in Champions Villains Vol. 3.) Other criminal geneticists besides Dr. Moreau have been known to mutate animals to sapience, or to splice animal genes with human; including Teleios, and the Overbrain who leads the Brain Trust villain team (found in Champions Villains (hereafter referred to as "CV") Vol. 1 and 2, respectively).

In some of the villains above the change to bestial form is not permanent. The Hornet can resume his human appearance at will, while Black Fang's changes are tied to the phases of the moon like a classic lycanthrope, or to his human form's emotional state. This leads into a discussion of Champions Universe "therianthropes," who change shape between human and animal, and/or an anthropomorphic animal form. They can manifest a far wider range of animal shapes than just wolves. According to the general discussion of CU therianthropes in The Mystic World, there are several ways a person can become a therianthrope. Some therianthropes are "contagious," spreading the condition by bite like a disease. Others result from magic being deliberately used on them, as was the case with Black Fang, and White Wolf of the villain team Red Winter (CV. Vol. 2), neither of whom is contagious. White Wolf has more control of his transformation than Black Fang, but El Jaguar, servant of the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca (CV Vol.1) has complete control of his god-given ability to become a jaguar or jaguar-man. The African dictator Joseph Otanga (CV Vol. 1) uses ritual magic to give himself the power to become any African animal, and even to mix his human form with features from multiple animals. He can also use his rituals to transform people into animals, or superhuman animal-men, under his control.

Therianthropy can also manifest within family lines, as an inherited condition. While most therianthropes tend to be solitary, the Chunhu clan based in China has long been gathering Oriental shape-shifters into their extended family. The Chunhu as a group pursue power, but one of their scions fights crime in Hong Kong as Tiger-Man, who changes from human to... well, that. 😉 (The Chunhu are briefly outlined in The Mystic World, while Tiger-Man's background -- but not game stats -- is summarized in The Ultimate Mystic.)

It's also definitely possible for a shape-shifter to be born with no influence of magic. Both the villains called Menagerie (CV Vol. 3) and El Sauriano (Champions Worlwide) are genetic mutants who can take multiple animal forms. El Sauriano's are confined to dinosaurs, but he can also assume a powerful dinosaur-man form.

Because practically all beings from popular world folklore have real existence in the CU, any which have or can change to an animalistic humanoid form, such as the tengu of Japan, would be fair game to use. Today most such beings live in Faerie, a "dimension" in the Astral Plane near Earth, but in the modern era may visit or even dwell on Earth for a time. Faerie is thoroughly described in The Mystic World.

Moving further beyond Earth, the Milky Way galaxy is home to many diverse sapient races. Champions Beyond, the source book for the space/cosmic side of the CU, describes nearly eighty alien species to varying degrees. A sizeable fraction of those resemble anthropomorphic versions of some type of Terrestrial animal. Naturally CO players are familiar with the batrachian Gadroon and lobster-like Qularr, but aliens exist resembling: apes (Sholarron, or at least their hosts); armadillos (Jakkari); beetles (Se'ecra); birds (Mostreen, Orthu, Thrinu, the last winged); cats (Fex, Kadathari); dogs (Pograckians); fish (Esagites, Hrac'darese); frogs (Quagi); lizards (Kolajik, Mon'dabi); otters (Se-lag); rats (Tarmin); and turtles (Denebians). Some of these races have developed interstellar civilizations, while others are technologically comparable to, or less advanced than, humanity. But there are still ways less advanced beings could find their way to Earth (see The Alien Thread for some suggestions). Many alien species are able to manifest super-powers just as humans do; although humanity does so more frequently, at a higher average power level, and/or over a wider range of powers, than almost any other species. Of course aliens who have access to advanced technology can wield devices more powerful and versatile than their native physiologies.

Other dimensions beyond Faerie can also be home to anthropomorphs. Quite a few dimensions are described in Champions books, from alternate versions of Earth to universes completely different from our own; and the number of such dimensions, and their potential inhabitants, is practically infinite. At least two of the dimensions conquered by Istvatha V'han are home to such sapients, the lizard-like Lith'sa, and the boar-like Thrund. (Examples of each are in Book Of The Empress: "Black," a member of V'han's superhuman Imperial Battalion, is a Lith'sa; while the rebel General Korth Torgo is a Thrund.)

While non-human sapient species are rare on present-day Champions Earth, in the ancient past they were far more numerous and diverse. The history of civilization on CU Earth is many millennia older than on real Earth, although most modern scientists don't know that. During the "Turakian Age" (the era when Takofanes originated), quite a few animal-like races existed, including Drakine (dragon-men), Erqigdlit (dog-men), Kallicantzari (goat-men), Mantasi and Myrmex (mantis- and ant-men respectively), Pakasa (cat-men), Ran-tari (frog-men), Seshurma (lizard-men), Sharthak (shark-men), Uthosa (fish-men), and Vulchine (winged vulture-men).

In the Turakian Age the use of magic was much more widespread than it is today, including direct meddling by the gods of the era; which makes for an easy explanation for beings from that era to be transported to the modern world. It also means that a Turakian anthropomorph could possess spell-casting powers, and/or enchanted weapons and artifacts, to complement their natural abilities. (These races are described and game-statted in the Hero System Bestiary and/or The Turakian Age world sourcebook.)

The lore for the Karkaradons, the humanoid sharks who serve Shadow Destroyer, refer to them as analogues to the Lemurians from Multifarian Earth; but there isn't really much resemblance between them. While they may occupy a similar aquatic ecological niche as the Lemurians, their appearance and PnP game stats closely resemble the above mentioned Sharthak. Time on Multifarian Earth is fluid, with people and places from what we would call past, present, and future existing simultaneously. Hence the Karkaradons could very well be the same race as the Sharthak. If that is the case (and it's unlikely to be either confirmed or denied officially for the foreseeable future), other non-human races from the past on Champions Earth who are now extinct there, could still be found on the Multifarian.

#13686417 Mar 08, 2018 at 06:12 PM
5 Posts
Cool. This is some good information to have on hand.
#13686486 Mar 08, 2018 at 07:15 PM
459 Posts
Thanks for the information, Liaden. Very good writeup.
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