Creating a shape-shifting magical human

Allright. There's an NPC in a home game which has a companion status that I have to design. The NPC is a magic human with a zmaj / zmey bloodline who, as a result of gaining might, has developped the ability to change into a draconic form. I'm trying to think of the best way to design that NPC.

A Muto Corpus animal power to justify the dragon shape was my main option, however I'm running into some problems, namely:

  • Powers and virtues which are gated by the shapechange. While an auram requisite would make sense to add into the shape change power for something like a breath weapon that brings up a gale-like wind, there are several such powers which are locked unless the character turns into dragon form. One or two powers is somewhat easy to build into a shapechange spell, more than that becomes complex;
  • There is a strong possibility that the character will gain in might over time. This might lead to the dragon shape becoming more powerful, including new powers, increase in size, etc. Having a system that easily allows for the character to gain might / magic qualities would be prefered.
  • The fact that Muto Corpus Animal spells work a lot better when you're shapechanging into something that has clear mundane stats. While a dragon's stats can be adjudicated, when you add the possibility of growth over time, it becomes complex to justify why the power has a given level, and what upgrading it a magnitude means. The idea is giving me a headache.

I've thought about treating the dragon shape as a lizard heartbeast, with epitome or chimera inner mystery on top. Initially, it seems easier, but upon reading how refining the heartbeast works, I realized it doesn't really make progression easier than just using the RoP:M virtues once you get into the nitty gritty of adding powers, and not just attributes. It also has lore implications I'm not sure the troupe will want to deal with.

The last scenario I'm looking at... looks essentially like building the character as a magical animal with a Muto Animal Corpus effect to change into human shape, and pretending the character is a magic human character anyway. This may make evolution of the character easier.

Any advice? Are there things I didn't consider, such as example characters that have gated powers behind a shapechange that I could look to as an example of how to proceed, or ways that particular virtues or virtue-flaw combination that would add for example, a stat boost to only one of the shapes of a character (e.g. something that would let improved soak work only in dragon shape without me needing to invent a system of how to adjudicate fake virtues resulting from the actual shape change spell magnitude)?

I think this is the best option. Among other things, it allows the character to fight in dragon form without needing to bypass magic resistance (which of course then becomes impossible for him as a human, but given that humans tend to fight with weapons rather than by biting and clawing, it's much less of a limitation).

In fact, I am not even sure you need to "pretend" the character is a magic human. I mean, if he is more dragon than human, why not just say that (a dragon who can turn into a human) is what he became?

Finally, if powers are restricted to just one shape, I would allow the character to take (and be compensated for) a Major Flaw or Inferiority like the Hermetic Necessary Condition (must be in a particular shape).

Is RoP:M p.52 Transformation by experience points and eating vis adequate for your saga, or too difficult? Could it be fine-tuned by an ArM5 p.47 Personal Vis Source - which may fit HoH:TL p.143 Mythic Blood (Zmey)? Giving more lee-way looks highly saga-specific to me.

The simple way would be, to give the character a MuCo(An) power to change into a dragon-like form, and over time add further MuAn powers working only on that form. Does the character have other animal forms, which make a still stronger gating of the MuAn powers through the dragon form necessary in the saga?

There may be some errata in the making for this right now. But this certainly requires some careful reading of spell guidelines, target and size specifications when defining additional powers or increasing existing ones. Upgrading existing powers increasing size is generally easier, and should be no problem for NPCs.

It's what we intend to use. And the availability of vis isn't a problem for that saga. No, the word easy really was about me being able to figure out what transformation I can have the character go through.

I'm seconding ezze above. The last scenario looks to be by far the easiest to handle.

Maybe you could ring the changes and use the Etin-Mod rules without all the Jotun flavour as a starting point?

Can you provide a book and page reference? These are some rules I'm not familiar with.

RM Muspelli p.83f The Etin Mod: a huge form Muspelli can take for some time, and which can have some Qualities.
Muspelli characters are all Gifted Companions with an opened Gift.